How Hungry Are We? by Alberta Ross

How hungry are we to achieve what we desire? We want to write – but how much do we want it? Are we so impatient we give up when life doesn’t play ball with us.  Do we despair when those goal posts change? Are we willing to re-configure, to retreat before we advance? Are we willing to put on hold for other considerations without ever losing track of the dream?

 

When I need inspiration, extra determination, a role model to help me, I do not have to look any further than my sister. I have blogged about this quiet hero in my life before.  But I will share her calm philosophy with you all again.  Because, for whatever dreams we have, someone such as her can serve as a beacon.  She is not unique, there are many like her.

 

My sister as a child was deaf, had speech problems because of this, had to be sent to special needs boarding school at five.  I never really got to know her as a child, but during the holidays she was happy and, although shy, popular because of her smile.  Deaf? Never mind there are others worse off.

 

Her deafness was just part of an eye syndrome, which we didn’t know off until she was an adult and her sight began to deteriorate.  She was registered blind over 30 years ago, about the time she also needed two hearing aids to hear.  She continued to commute into London to work for many years, aided by her long cane, until she was retired on health grounds at 50.  That was 20 years ago.  Now most ‘blind’ people do actually have varying degrees of sight, just not good.

 

All her life she has loved walking. Up hill and down dale, exploring highways and byways, unlike me she really enjoys walking.  Like me she was brought up to be independent. Now her sight was such she was loosing both these pleasures.  She felt increasingly isolated and fearful of walking alone.

 

Then she trained with her first guide dog.  She still had some sight, with the dog she had independence and freedom again, soon she and the dog were traipsing the highways again.  Then there was a second guide dog and they too wandered the byways. All the time accepting and adjusting and insisting she was fine and always happy and smiling.

 

Four years ago she developed another eye condition which robbed her of the rest of her sight. Nothing was left, blackness only.

 

In the meantime we retired moved to another part of the country.  Now she, friendly soul as she is, had always wished to live in a village – me, curmudgeon as I am, prefer the anonymity of a town:)  We moved to a medium sized village.  I can remain fairly private and she has made friends all over the village.

 

This new guide dog and her have struggled.  What should have taken a month of re-training has turned into a saga lasting 14 months. So how much does a 70 year old hunger for her freedom, independence and the sheer joy of walking? No-one would have blamed her if she had elected to sit at home.

 

She has faced this new obstacle Life has thrown at her and adjusted yet again.  Routes she knew well had to be changed – re-configured – a few have had to be abandoned altogether for safety’s sake.  She has been bruised and battered, despondent and frustrated.  But always the goal was to be able to stride out on her own and enjoy what she enjoys. She has had to sit and ponder, to work out new ways of achieving that goal. She had to be willing to accept it could only happen sometime in the undetermined future. Still she managed to smile.

 

A month ago she completed the five routes she had set out to conquer, two take her into the village and three are for leisure. They range from 25 minutes to an hour.  She is back striding confidently along our byways and highways.

 

But, and this is a big but, she did not do this on her own.  She needed encouragement, help and advice.  Friends stepped in when I couldn’t walk the walk with her.  The villagers, from twitchers behind their curtains to local shopkeepers, kept an eye out for her and stepped up to aid and rescue when things went wrong. The community was there, as they say, for her.  The goal was hers, the determination was hers but without help it may have overwhelmed.

 

There is no shame in allowing others  to help; we have discovered this.  Our upbringing had taught us differently. You did for yourself, kept yourself to yourself, you did not ask for help. We imbibed this with our mother’s milk.

 

We have learnt, my sister and I, that a caring community is a gift to appreciate.  We have found goals are easier to accomplish with the steadying influence of a friendly hand under the elbow.  We have learnt that if one is hungry enough the goals can be achieved but that compromise is sometimes required, and is not always a backward step, merely a different route to the end.

 

So if we have a goal  and are prepared for Life to throw obstacles in our way, if we have a goal and are prepared to re-route the path to it. If we have a goal and can accept willing help and encouragement, there is no reason not to achieve. For us here, we have fellow ROWers as well as family and friends.  Kait has created, in cyberspace, a community like our village.  But for all the help  offered we must really want to achieve, Life can throw harder balls than those thrown at  my sister,  you must be really hungry for it.

~*~

Alberta Ross

17 comments

  1. Tenacity. A vision. Endurance. Commitment. Your sister’s experiences reflect all these and more. I can see you walking together in the village, a community not of your own choosing, but acceptable. And how the people helped when they might not have intended it. Thank you for sharing this story, Alberta. It ties right into how ROW80 is such a community, week after week.

    1. I agree the doctrine is flawed and rather silly – The doctrine just meant one used one’s own resources – there wasn’t much help – okay there was the state but one never asked neighbours or discussed one’s problems with others – only professionals such as doctors – I agree there is always some help. Natural aloofness and upbringing prob. made our parents more reclusive than many. I learnt very slowly on all my travels around the world (usually on my own) that people actually like to help but it was a very difficult habit / training to break. My parents never managed it.

      The help from our community came unaided because at heart folk are good – they also admired and liked my sister. I explained to interested parties why it was so much more difficult this time around and so they understood she need more help – the twitchers from behind their curtains would rush out because they are nice people.

      I’m still a bit of a cumudgen still prefer my own company, I doubt that will ever change now but I do appreciate comunity now which is a good state to end up in:)

  2. You and your sister continue to inspire me. Thank you for sharing her journey. “…re-route the path to it.” <– Love that. Love the feel of community here in ROW80 and throughout your post.

  3. Alberta, I agree, and yet I do have one small caveat (not about your sister’s amazing ventures, but) about the statement:

    Our upbringing had taught us differently. You did for yourself, kept yourself to yourself, you did not ask for help. We imbibed this with our mother’s milk.

    I mean, yes, that was the doctrine, not just of your youth, but still is for many people even to today… But it’s a flawed ideal right from the start. The people who espouse this doctrine often have all sorts of tools and machines to help them do as they do. They have help. The only difference is that they control the effect of the help and the quantity…

    The help a community can provide is not up to one individual’s control. It may be there without any expectation. It often is. It may be there when not asked for. It may need to be asked for more than once or twice sometimes…

    But that’s beside the point… The real point is–community matters, and its gifts are beyond measure, each and every member of the community.

  4. This brought me to tears. It speaks to my own situation on so many levels…

    Caught in the grip of a lifequake this year I’ve struggled against one road block after another–deteriorating vision and hearing, mood disorder, marital separation, loss of medical insurance, loss of home, cranky netbook that was my main connection to community as well as reading and writing tool, family crisis (pl) social service hoops and concomitant shaming.

    I too imbibed that DIY doctrine as a child but with the twist that you weren’t allowed to trust yourself but only Jesus or ask for any help but God’s and any problems you had were evidence of weak faith and/or pride that needed punishing or willfulness that needed correcting. Thus it takes great effort for me to imagine a goal, believe I have a right to aim for it and exert my will toward efforts to gain it.

    ROW80 has become one of my lifelines giving me a sense of a community of fellow believers in a common dream, colleagues who confirm the validity of my goals, encouragers who cheer me on when I’m on track and lift me up when I slip off.

    I haven’t been very good at paying it forward in the last year tho. This has been partly due to my innate shyness. I used to at least lurk on the other ROWer blogs and occasionally have the courage to comment. But since January the elements of the lifequake made it nearly impossible. Primarily by curtailing my available time but it was the cranky netbook that made me think twice twice over about every click of the mouse for i never knew if I would be waiting seconds or minutes for the page or file to open or if the application would freeze or crash.

    Because of my new laptop I was able to immediately follow the impetus to respond to your post. One that has encouraged me and given me renewed commitment to my goals and to reaching out to the community whether to ask for help or offer it. I may need to put visiting ROWers and leaving comments on my ROW80 goals spreadsheet now…

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. I spent the first couple of rounds lurking – I’m not a natural born joiner – your lifequake has needed (and continues to I imagine) a great deal of courageto deal with as I said many have much worse bits of Life thrown at them.

      ROWers are an amazing bunch – and really such a simple idea – as indeed many great ideas are:)

      I just had to change machines as the old one was crashing and freezing and taking up to 30 mins to wake up each day – it curtails ones activities I agree – every time one is on is precious – still trying to figure out how this new one works – been so many changes:)

      all the very best:)

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