The Pale Brown Line

I need to find a way to teach productive acceptance of our conditions.  I would hate to see A live a life of boulder pushing.
I need to find a way to teach productive acceptance of our conditions. I would hate to see A live a life of boulder pushing.

The author, Richard Cohen, recently described living with MS as akin to living as Sisyphus, condemned forever to roll a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down ( As I think about MS, rather than pondering the deliberately frustrating task of rolling a boulder all day for no result, I picture myself trying to walk the thin pale line barely visible to this color challenged dad.

On one side of the line, I see only today. Every day feels much like the last. The pain is still there to keep my foggy mind company. I take my medications to enable something akin to a normal day’s worth of activity. I do so knowing tomorrow and all of tomorrows’ tomorrows will lead down a path of increasing symptoms. Why bother? As I look at today, it seems so pointless, so like yesterday.

On the other side of the line is the sight of the distant future when I am dead and scattered in the wind somewhere. After all, the opponent on the other side of the line is Father Time, and he has yet to lose.

Somewhere in the middle is the pale brown line, just subtly different from the marble of daily experience on which we all walk. Along this line, it is possible to see the impact of the marginal daily gain. I think of it as the trail of the poo of life. With a 3-year-old, a 7-year-old boy and an eight- year-old girl with bowel issues, the juvenile side of me can’t get poo off the brain. In this case though, it gave me a new perspective.

At first all a baby seems to do is eat, sleep, and poop. Every day seems the same…for months. Then come the little changes which at first are little but annoyances. Why must every kid take off their poo filled diapers? Then comes the endless story telling to occupy a kid’s mind while they sit on the potty. Every day, it is another story, and the only change comes in the form of a different story. It’s mind numbingly exhausting some times, but it is eventually traded in for the often repeated and always ill-timed, “I have to go potty RIGHT NOW!” Some times they make it. At other times, it is back to cleaning up poo.

Still, mired in all of this poo, is the faintest whiff of progress to give hope. From a daily perspective, it often seems pointless to try. In the long-term, we are all fertilizer. It’s along the faint brown line, faded by years of potty use instead of inadvertent dumps, we can see how much we have grown.  It’s only when I can choose a middling perspective between now and the future that I get to enjoy life’s progress.

I try to think of my MS as the need to take a dump. Each day, I hope I deal with it a little better whether it is a dry erase board to remember tasks to be completed or just confidence I can overcome the trials of the day.  To ignore the MS is to create a much browner spot along the line, but to focus too much on it is to fall into the “woe is me” depression and lose sight of the line.