This week, I take a look back on the year of MS and Me and reflects on the paths we take through life.
So where are we, as a community, now? What is going on for people with MS or other neurological conditions in 2014 in Ireland? There are thousands of experience with a myriad of stories about how well people are doing, how their daily lives are improved because they are getting the supports they need at a challenging time and how they are keeping themselves well. But the waiting lists remain, people don’t have access to neurologists nor neuropsychologists, to counsellors to talk their feelings out, to employment advisors to work things out or to financial support so they can live beyond a state of penury.
But aren’t the lights back on in the country? To look at the news, we see that the country is ‘back on track’ in terms of the economy (never mind the water protests by thousands of people and the cuts across our social systems). Is this the same path trod during the Celtic Tiger years, where people believe the ‘news-speak’ rather than critically examining what’s behind the words? It is just another ‘calf path’ that we are following just because it is the path that is well worn and used?
The Calf Path is a poem by Sam Walter Foss and tells the story of a ‘primeval’ calf as it walks home ‘like a good calf should’. But this calf is wobbly on its legs, going here and there in a crooked way, eventually getting home. The next day, a dog follows the calf’s path, then a bell-weather sheep leads the flock along the crooked path. As it is worn down, going higgledy-piggedly through the woods, it becomes The Way. It is such a crooked path that is cursed by all who use it but use it they must because it is The Way. The path became a lane, the lane became a road that was difficult to walk yet it then a street where thousands every day step their feet. Now, thousands of years on, it is that bendy road that curves this way and that through our community/village/town/city. It is the primeval calf, wobbling its way home thousands of years ago, that is still leading us this way and that.
Adventure on another person’s path is useful for a time but we need to make our own way as we live our own lives. People have been discovering their own way, how to manage a condition that they never expected to come to their door. Whether it is work, family, mothering, activism, relationships, spirituality, incontinence, the balancing act, disclosure, fatigue or something else, it is all being lived by every person, everyday.
We are a eclectic bunch, people with MS. Diverse, determined, struggling, thriving, annoyed, happy and joyful. No matter what, nothing in life can prepare people for the adjustments that MS sometimes forces us to make. At times, we do walk that ‘Calf Path’ because it is easier and it is the best things for us. But don’t let your life be a walk along the path of a creature that bares no resemblance nor has no understanding for what you want for your life.
As this year draws to a close, the MS and Me blog team will look back at this first full calendar year with gratitude that we get to speak of the unique ways we live with MS and share with you failures and successes. Take some time to look back at your own path through the past year and reflect on what has past, your own successes, what could have gone better and what you learned. Reflecting is one way to grow and allows us to look with joy to the days that are to come.
From my family to yours, may your days be happy and your New Year be filled with joy.
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The Calf Path by Sam Walter Foss