Would you pick up a pebble?

The last week and a bit has flown by in a haze of work and play and pain, and I just haven’t had a spare brain cell for blogging with. It’s not that I’ve run out of ideas, it’s more that this imperfect body of mine decided to remind me that I have a pebble by filling my days and nights with pins and needles, pain, and a fatigue so deep that by the time I finish my morning ablutions and get the kids fed and scrubbed and launched on their day, I’m just plain done in.

I hate it.

There are very few things in this world that frustrate me as much as my physical limitations do. Most of the time, I try to be kind to this shell that carries around the essence of me. I try not to overdo; to stay within reasonable bounds; to respect its limits and stay on this side of the line on the beach that says ‘beyond this point, there be dragons throwing pebbles.’ From time to time I consciously choose to step over the line — knowing as I do so that I will pay dearly for it… but not until later. And later, I have learned, can be managed. As long as you cross the line with eyes wide open, the painful consequence of later can be managed.

But if you cross the line too often, if you taunt the dragons too frequently, they stop throwing only the prettiest pebbles, one at a time. Instead, they start throwing entire fist-fulls of them straight at your most vulnerable points. Hands lose their mobility and their strength. Fingers and palms and forearms and even halfway past the elbow gets replaced with razor-sharp flashes of agony lined with the prickly rasp of pins and needles (who have, by the way, decided that ‘tingly’ really should be ‘raked across a cheese grater and then dunked in a mix of salt water and vinegar’). And feet… feet become a white-hot flame of torment that races up your legs all the way to your armpits and makes your heart start to stutter in your chest every time you get to your feet and dare to walk.

This I know, from experience earned the hard and painful way, and I avoid crossing the line too often. I avoid it like the plague, since I have learned that to ignore the line too often is to invite in a whole new level of torment that lasts two or three or even four long, torturous days before it starts to abate.

Perhaps my dragons have grown bored lately. Perhaps they’ve invented a pebble multiplier device and are showing it to all their friends. Whatever the reason, the dragons have grown restless and, like bored children everywhere, they’ve started throwing tantrums. Big ones. And they’ve been throwing them for almost two weeks straight.

I walk anyway, of course. I cook meals and bake bread in the bread machine and do laundry and read aloud to the kids and read quietly to myself and do all the other things that need doing in an ordinary day (and that like just this side of the line beyond which I dare not step).

I knit, a lot, since knitting keeps my mind off the dragons. Lately I’ve been embroidering a lot, as it, too, is a good activity for distracting the mind from the howling of the beasts. I’ve put off cutting down the garden, since that much movement lies on the wrong side of the line. I’ve put off painting B’s room, since that, too, is currently beyond reach. I’ve put off baking cookies, since standing at the kitchen counter long enough to shape them all is flirting with the edge of danger. I’m trying, in other words, to do enough to have a life worth living without doing those things that will put me in the path of a full-scale hailstorm of pebbles.

When you live with a pebble, sometimes that’s all you can do. That, and wait for the dragons to fall asleep for a day or two.

They will tire. It may take a while, but they will tire of throwing so many pebbles at once and go back to tossing them gently, one at a time. This, I believe with all my heart.

I must. I must. To believe anything else would cross a line that doesn’t bear thinking about, even if, sometimes, in the darkest and loneliest part of the night, I can’t help but turn it over and over in my mind.

And as for the dragons? Right now they are still scooping up pebbles with both hands and letting them fly, but I’m catching a few before they can hit me and tucking them safely in my pockets where the dragons can’t find them.

On a chain around my neck, I’ve got a lovely blue and white mottled rock, I’m not sure what it is. And since  mothers with rocks in their pockets is a family tradition, right now in my pocket I have a lovely piece of tiger eye, silky smooth to the touch after spending several days in our rock tumbler and a beautiful piece of purple amethyst that makes me smile every time I see it.

If nothing else, these small, colourful pebbles of mine will remind me to breathe. To smile. To laugh. To hug the people I love and hold them tight. To love myself enough to know when enough is enough. And to believe that I am more than my pebble. That I may carry a pebble or three around with me, but I am still me, and always will be.

But I would appreciate it very, very much if the next time you see a pretty pebble, you would pick it up and tuck it in your pocket. Every pebble in your pocket is one less piece of ammunition for the dragons, you see.


2 thoughts on “Would you pick up a pebble?

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