I never cared much for this word. It evokes either some degree of pain and sadness, or plain indifference.
However, recently, someone wanted more attention. My left thumb. It's actually not the thumb itself but the joint. If I'm not mistaken (and yes, I'm self diagnosing myself here), it's my carpometacarpal joint and again, it's most likely due to my osteoarthritis. It feels tender, like I tore a ligament or something and it's definitely frustrating me at the moment. It's a constant reminder that I'm aging, and possibly at a much accelerated rate than what I had expected.
I never appreciated the value of my thumb before all this happened. It's gotten to a point where I am having a hard time extending it when I need to grab something, especially one that has some weight to it. It's annoying to realize that holding just a full glass of water takes some effort now and could be painful at times. Even more so when I try to squeeze something like maybe a bottle of shower gel. Sure there are better days, and worse days, but still, I know that there is now a new normal set for me.
Everyday and night, I'm reminded of all the days from the past decades when I took my thumb, and all my other strong, young and normal body parts for granted. Everyday now, I feel as if Left is staring back at me, pointing its fingers at me as it giggles mockingly. I know now that the arrogance of my Right has been toned down. Yes, it's still my dominant side but it now knows it simply can't go it alone.
I know I'm far from defining myself as disabled, and that I'm still in a far better place than others out there who are dealing with real physical challenges. But if anything, these physical changes have made me realize that part of aging is letting go of one's (false) sense of invincibility. Youth tends to 'gift' us with a veneer of immortality, which of course is only possible because at the same time, youth comes with innocence and a myopic view of life and the world. However as we age and we find that our bodies do break down after all whether we like it or not, we are confronted with the inevitable truth; that we are mortals, we have weaknesses, and that no body part is too insignificant to be taken for granted, mocked, abused or ignored.
Enjoy what you have. Know that there is no such thing as an insignificant part of your anatomy. Love it. Care for it. Celebrate it! Right and Left, I see now that there is such symphonic beauty to your symmetry. I hope I'm not yet too late.
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