Is my neck broken? I asked.
Honey, with what you’ve got going on, you’ll wish it was a broken neck.
And with that reply, the EMT paramedic clicked the ambulance’s back door shut. Bound to the stretcher, I looked up at the green ceiling, searching. I felt the increasing speed of the wheels as we left the emergency room’s parking lot and turned onto the road.
This was my second ambulance of the night. I was going from one hospital to another, to the special-hospital-for-the-scary-serious-stuff. This is a moment the extraneous falls away. You wonder about your dependents. You hope it’ll be okay. Hope for “more time.”
This is the first blog post published at patrickpitman.com. In those that follow, I’ll finish the story started in this one, being alive to tell it. But first, an observation that strikes me now:
For as long as I can remember, hope foolishly guided me. I planned ahead. I anticipated next year and the next many after that. Given more time, I would achieve some future outcome. Always did I assume my future self would be in a position to optimize it further. I would always be able to think, move, act.
Do you proceed along similarly?
How fundamental, how universal are our assumptions of a) more time, and b) a capacity in body and mind?
Do you expect to be able to get up tomorrow and work towards that for which you hope?
Hopefulness is a forerunner of endurance. With sufficient hope, we develop the capacity of endurance. This looks like self-discipline and is called a virtue.
But hope can be cruel. Hope can be the reason we tolerate what does not work, what should not continue, or what ought not be delayed. A bully whom we excuse. A missed dinner with the family. A deferred phone call to a friend.
Cruel also are hope’s ingredients, the assumptions of more time and continued capacity. They are cruel when untrue. They are always untrue at a point unknown to you or me.