I high hopes of being able to sustain a daily post for the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge, but here we are on Day 13 and I have already missed several days of writing. Living with a pebble often means that I have to readjust my plans and take on only the highest priority items in any given day. This week, that has meant dealing with an ongoing chronic health issue for one of the kids (yes, kids often live with pebbles too) and putting my remaining energy into schoolwork (I’m in full time school this year and nearing the end), laundry, and feeding the family. Blogging is the first thing to go when my days have too many pebbles to handle with grace, and so I have been absent here.
Today’s challenge is to write about the 10 things you couldn’t live without. If the world were to end as we know it and I was to find myself stranded in the woods or on a desert island, what would be the 10 things I would want to have with me? A very interesting question, and one which makes me wonder: why only 10 things? Surely I could fit more than 10 things in a bag if I had to?
I wonder, too, how long I would be stranded and what resources would be readily available. Do I have to bring food? Do I have to bring water? What about shelter? What about health-related necessities, like a first aid kit, my favourite body pillow that lets me sleep comfortably at night, my knee brace, my cane, and an unlimited supply of painkillers?
What about the little luxuries, the things that make life bearable?
Assuming that I am being funneled to a refugee camp where shelter, water, and basic food is being provided, what little luxuries would I want to bring with me to make dealing with chronic illness while living in such a situation more bearable?
The hammock, which is the single most comfortable place to read on a lovely summer’s day. Good for sleeping, too.
The brightly coloured woolen blanket that is soft and thick and oh-so-very warm, even in the middle of a sudden summer downpour when the rain is falling in sheets and you find yourself soaked to the skin but happily warm as you hug a three year old girl tight in your arms under the blanket and marvel at the power of nature, the sheer quantity of water falling from the sky, and the power of wool to retain body warmth even when wet through.
Yarn and string, of any kind, though wool is probably the most practical as it has properties unlike any synthetic materials, such as warmth and durability and the ability to be turned into felt. What’s more, if you can find a sheep to befriend, harvesting wool and turning it into usable yarn isn’t very difficult at all. You can also use any length of yarn or string to play Cat’s Cradle or Chinese Jump Rope, or to tie your brother up with when he is being excessively annoying.
Knitting needles, to knit the yarn with, and a crochet hook for finishing and for making denser crocheted fabrics. And, if I knew I would have access to sheep, a drop spindle and a pair of carding brushes, so I could make my own yarn. Too practical to be a luxury? Perhaps. But for me, knitting and crocheting is also a way to distract myself from the reality of life with a pebble on my worst days, so it is also a luxury.
Needles and thread and bits of cloth. What can I say – crazy quilting and embroidering has become an obsession for me, and a luxury I would dearly love to bring with me wherever I go.
A deck of cards, a Mancala board, and a chess board. In other words, simple, classic games that can be played by people of all ages and that you will never tire of. Though honestly, you can play Mancala with a board scratched in the dirt and a handful of pebbles and it is just as much fun, if not more. The ultimate in portable strategy games, and one that you can learn in a minute and spend years mastering, if you ever do, and variations of it have been played around the world for well over a thousand years.
Seeds for the garden, vegetables, mainly, but also for an apple tree and a walnut tree and raspberry bushes and other edible perennials. While it may not seem like a luxury at first, to be able to provide for your own table is a blessing, and to be able to ground yourself in the daily chores of tending a garden is pure pleasure disguised as work. My garden has always been as much about meditation and healing as it has been about food and flowers, and it is a luxury I would want to take with me.
Books, as many as I could manage, because with a few good books along for company, you are never entirely alone. With the advent of the e-book and access to a power source to charge my e-reader with, I could keep us all entertained and informed and always growing intellectually.
A notebook and pencil. Writing is, for me, the greatest pleasure and an infinitely flexible source of entertainment. With a notebook and pencil, I could write no matter where I was. I could invent stories to entertain and amuse and distract from the reality around us. I could challenge someone to a game of Dots or Tic Tac Toe or Hangman. I could keep children busy drawing, and make them laugh at the inadequacy of my own artistic efforts. I could teach them math, or spelling, or anything that needs a little diagramming or illustration. I could have them keep a nature journal, or a diary, or invent their own comic book. I could challenge them to a paper airplane contest. I could make envelopes to save seeds in. With paper and a pencil and a little imagination, anything is possible.
First on my list would be my family. My family is an infinite joy, the core of my heart, and a very large part of what keeps me going each and every day. When life with a pebble becomes too much, the kids give me the reason I need to keep going and The Man We Call Dad lends me his strength, his empathy, and a solid presence to lean on when I can barely hold myself upright, both figuratively and literally.
Looking back through this list, I see a little comfort, a lot of distraction, and an even greater amount of sharing and caring and love. Most of the things I consider luxuries centre around keeping my mind off pain and the constant buzz of pins and needles.
The rest help us come together as a family in laughter and joy and just a little bit of competition, but in a way that I can participate in given my more limited mobility and the constant struggle with fatigue, because with my family by my side and a lot of joy in our hearts, life is so much better.