“Tempered” vs. “healed”

Writer, poet and teacher Stephen Kuusisto has a wise and fascinating post up about disability and healing. He says:

… Principle One: sometimes it’s crucial to break the rules. Principle Two: We can’t always be healed but we can live well.

… We are all hoping to “get well” when we are fighting an illness or a disability. I recently attended a conference on writing and “healing” and heard lots of literary writers talking about how important their creative work was in terms of “healing” from illness. What was fascinating was the way every one of those writers assumed the easy use of “healing” or “being healed” as being analogous to the purpose behind human creativity. This is an old fashioned idea that many otherwise sensible people are still attracted to. Who would want to argue against this idea? Isn’t the goal of every therapeutic encounter to be healed?

Well no, not always. People who have disabilities or who are enduring an intractable illness are often faced with a different challenge, one that defies healing but which requires us to think about being well just the same. As a teacher with a disability who is increasingly researching the ways that culture influences our ideas about “ability” and “disability” I have come to prefer the old metallurgical term “tempering” to “healing” because it suggests that we are getting stronger without denoting a complete physical transformation.

Not every disability can be healed. I learned long ago that being “incurable” and being well are possible. But don’t go looking for this anomaly in the rule book. In effect what you need to do is break the rules that have long been established for how to think of being well. I am for instance the best blind sailor in my family. Never mind that I’m the only blind sailor in my family. I did in fact teach my sighted wife how to dock a boat. There’s no rule book for this.

Go read. It’s thought provoking and inspires attitude.

Update: In other news, yet another “late season” storm is blowing through right now. It’s cold and raining poodles and Persians out there. Really, really windy, too. It’s screaming around the eaves and making my big (really big) wind chime sing. And, I saw a poor little female hummingbird get blown away, literally, a little while ago. I hope she survives the gale!

With the drastic change in the weather comes an increase in the intensity of my hand and wrist pain, which is why I chose to link to Mr Kuusisto’s post today, along with the fact that it’s an excellent one and I love his writing and poetry. Doesn’t hurt that he’s a fellow Fin, either. He looks so much like my late grandmother it’s almost unreal. Masculine version, of course …

Time for a paraffin hand-bath. Thanks for visiting!

1 thought on ““Tempered” vs. “healed”

  1. Pingback: Sisu « RheumaBlog

Comments are closed.