Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bumping Up Against Our Limitations

I have interpreted in many high risk settings where potential danger constantly lurks. All-male inpatient treatment facilities with on-edge guys in varying stages of detox, the downtown jail, correctional facilities where officers tell you from the get-go that you are on your own if an emergency takes all manpower, and the emergency psych ward at two in the morning. But recently, I sat in the back of a navy blue PT Cruiser whose deaf 85-year-old driver (with cataracts, mind you) tried to pass the driving test. Easily distracted, he squinted and marveled at the huge berms of snow, optimistically backed up and made turns without looking around (arthritic neck, he informed us), never driving above 15 miles per hour. “Straight ahead! Straight ahead!” I futilely signed to him as per the examiner’s instruction via the rearview mirror (which he never looked at). After 20 minutes of my own life passing before my eyes, I breathed a huge sigh of relief as he pulled into the final parking spot safely.

He simply wanted the license so he could drive himself to his favorite fishing holes.

Limitations. Literally and figuratively bumping up against our weaknesses.

Facing our frailties. Difficult no matter one’s age and experience, sighted or cataracted, hearing or deaf.

(By the way, he was not issued the license. Whew.)

LL, 3/10/2009. Prevail.


  1. of all the dangerous assignments you go to...this may be the cake. "straight ahead...straight ahead!" this may be the best advice for overcoming our limitations. s

  2. They say that children in a fenced playground will play right up to and on the fence, while children in an unfence playgroung tend to stay in the middle, where it is safe. There is something good about knowing the boundary. For myself, the eternal optimist (like your driver), finding the the boundaries of my human frailty is enormously sad. As if the pony I thought I had turned out to be a saw-horse. Less-than doesn't even begin to cover it.

  3. I like to go with denial. It is by far my favorite defense mechanism. Just choose not to think about it. Its an easy place, its a pleasant place. Occasionally, I very carefully peek out. And eventually, and quite miraculously, my brain adjusts and adapts all by itself. Truly, all by itself. Sets a new starting place to go forward. Sweatless victory. Nope, don't be threatening my denial with any truth. I am cookin something here.

  4. And...

    You, Goat, of all people must know how much fun a saw-horse can be, right? Tack those ears on, mane and tail. Dress it up and lug it around the yard. Race with your sister's. Yeehaw! You are good at this. Maybe just a little denial time first...

  5. Indeed, never down for more that 30 seconds, we dyed-in-the-sunshine people know that all roads become the RIGHT road. (THis is not denial, seesta, this is TRUTH!)I'll bet the deaf/cataracted driver gets to his fishing holes....on his saw horse HAHAHAHAHA.

  6. After just now running to a call of alarm from our bathroom, "Jack's trying to WIPE his own poop!" I feel intimately acquainted with the lovely, lovely side of boundaries.

    Limitations? In some ways a relief, a designation of where my responsibilities begin and end. Permission to rest.

  7. I believe denial does have its true place. In fetal position surrounded by unsafety, I become incapable of facing my fears.

    But when safe-ness is created, I begin to uncurl, gingerly test my footing, wait, and feel the warmth as though I have just drunk a hot toddy.

    Rest within my limitation.

    And think, maybe, just maybe I will prevail.