San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetesSee all posts »
No Pony in the Manure
There's an old joke about twin brothers, one of whom is an incurable optimist.
On their eighth birthday, the parents put a beautiful wooden rocking pony in one son’s room and a waist-deep pile of manure in the optimist’s room, hoping to teach the latter a lesson about expecting too much out of life.
The first kid screams in glee at his gift, while the optimist takes one look and rushes out of the house to the tool shed. He quickly returns with a shovel and begins frantically digging through the manure in his bedroom.
“Why are you digging through manure?” his incredulous parents ask.
Between grunts the kid replies, “I know there’s gotta be a pony in here somewhere!”
Generally speaking, I identify with the optimistic brother. But there are days when no matter how hard I try to wrest a pony from life’s ordure, life stinks.
Some unholy combination of aches, pains, bills, sharp words with someone, impending deadlines, high blood sugars, uninspired breakfast (my bad), and a dog that is spending the morning barking futilely at phantoms make my existence several ponies short of blissful.
What to do?
First, I remember. I go way back to when I was 13 and miserable with acne, unrequited love, clumsiness, and cluelessness. Somehow, unequipped with any coping mechanism save the simple desire to continue living, I made it to 14.
Lesson learned: If you can make it there (13), you can make it anywhere.
So, that gives me some perspective. I tell myself, “You’re going through a manure day. But, as the infamous Scarlett O’Hara reminds us, ‘Tomorrow is another day.’ Just get through this one.”
Next, I take a walk. Not long, not hard, just a stroll through a favorite part of my small town. Even if I’m in a deep State of Grump, I force myself to sniff the jasmine that my neighbors have planted in abundance. Aromatherapy!
Back home, maybe I’ll find some small, uncomplicated task to finish that I’ve been putting off, like writing a thank you note or responding to a friend’s e-mail. Ten or 15 minutes of focused effort produces a small sense of pleasure, accomplishment, and control.
Chores help, too. Stacking the dishwasher, filing stuff away, cleaning out one refrigerator drawer. Anything that makes my too-busy mind focus on using my hands. People are always in a better mood when they’re using their hands.
Usually at this point my doofus dog, Baxter, realizes that barking at various imaginary threats is nowhere near as fun as snuggling up to me to get his head scratched. Boxer therapy may not cure a funk, but it sure sets a limit on how deep it can go.
Finally, I mentally commune with the vast and great community of type 2s worldwide, whose members have all had their share of manure days. Somehow we make it past the astounding and absurdly high blood sugar readings, and the sudden wince-inducing attacks of neuropathic pain.
Like soldiers who remember the trenches, we’re all amassing war stories we can tell one another someday as we rock side by side on our wooden ponies, reminiscing.