The Body
As Prison
My "I" feels trapped in a structure that I once imagined fondly as a house but that has metamorphosed under the baneful influence of MS into a prison. The inmate is intact, although because weakness renders speech and writing increasingly difficult, she must struggle to communicate the fact to the outside world. Immurement feels like a distinct and horrific possibility.
As I slouch here in my wheelchair, grasping with the terror of being buried alive, questions batter my brain. Who in the world benefits from my idleness, no matter how reluctant Why am I still here? What on earth am I for? Beyond giving others the opportunity to practice the works of mercy at my expense, can I be said to serve any function at all? And if not, am I still fully human? In a society that conflates worth with productivity, can I learn to define humanness in other than utilitarian terms? "Do you think you're going to change the world?" a newspaper reporter once asked about my activism. "Well," I responded, "at least I'm not making it any worse." Is that enough?
--- From A Dynamic God
Nancy Mairs
©2007 Beacon Press
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