On The Road To Kingdom Come: What’s Worth Doing Badly?

“Hey. You ok?” Janet began peeling back the covers, “Anyone in there?”

“Hmph,” as I slowly opened to the flicker of daylight. “What time is it?”

“Good,” she affirmed to herself. “At least you’re not dead.”

“What time is it?” 

“1:26 PM. Thought I’d stop by and drop off an Asiago Cheese Bagel. They always make the best cheese bagels Saturday.”

“Hmph,” I moaned in agreement. As brain synapsis began firing, Janet’s words faded as I curled an eyebrow. “Saturday?” I asked again.

Continued to be lost in her own thought, “Of course. Gibraltar’s Deli always makes the best cheese bagels on Saturday . . .” As her words faded from my radar.

I had been asleep for two days. “Oh God,” I silently whispered. Two days ago, I barely completed work. I was dizzy, light-headed, and had difficulty walking. My muscles hurt, the side of my head hurt, and my fingers ached from movement. I retraced my life. I remember getting in my car. Technically, I did drive home (if that’s what you call it). I drove into a curb, nearly crashed through the company’s parking garage security gate, almost fell asleep at a stoplight, and nearly clipped a mailbox. I got home and intended to take an hour-and-a-half nap. Two days later, I am waking to an asiago cheese bagel. Life is weird. 

People with Parkinson’s can experience extreme fatigue. It is a two-part cycle. One part physical, another part mental. Apparently, I felt both. The physical exhaustion I experienced leads people to reduce work hours, retire, or avoid social activities. The mental fatigue included mental tiredness, making concentration so faltering one can drive upon curbs and through security gates. 

To be fair, I have experienced this type of fatigue a few times. Previous experiences were similar to San Francisco’s slow-rolling, early evening fog that by all accounts, at first brush, does not feel overwhelming, but ensures you’re pretty toasted several hours later. On such nights, I would eat dinner, listen to Frank Sinatra on XM Radio, and slumber off to sleep. Whatever magic occurred between nightfall and dawn washed away any spoilage and I carried on as if nothing happened. Simply put, I am happy to eat, happy to sleep, happy to work.

At twenty-four, I rushed strained to see around the corner of my life, clinging to the hope that whatever cocoon I built, the caterpillar inside me might disintegrate, making way for a newer and more modern model. Instead, I rounded corners with such speed that I barely remember those left in the wake. Oftentimes, my lungs were winded, and the secrets I hoped to change stayed with me. I dreamed of living in a European village. I dreamed of changing the world. Now, I am a city dweller ruled by infirmity. As Harry Chapin might say, “A tame and toothless tabby can’t produce a lion’s roar.”

I wonder if I had set myself up for an impossible task—seeking perfection where it couldn’t exist. I always wanted my life to be perfect. I wanted fulfillment: the perfect job, the perfect wife, the perfect body. Looking back, I immediately think of writer Jack Gilbert. A snippet of words haunt me, “… anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” 

I have often said to Kanako that upon returning to God, I will openly state “how wonderfully bad at life I was. But I was there … And in spite of all my failures, I helped a good number of folks.” Sure I treaded water and nearly drowned from my own consequences on many occasions. But I cheated death, survived rough seas, and stayed harbored too long for many folks. 

Interjecting upon the consciousness of thought, “You’re not going to be happy if you miss these warm bagels,” Janet yells. Happiness? 

Wow, happiness. Even in my pain, I’m in the midst of absolute quiet, beauty. A lot of being alone. I walk in the morning, listen to the news, I eat, and start working. Just like the cycle of my life, I awake to see what’s worth doing badly.



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