When you are suddenly faced with limitations, such as my leg being in a post-surgical cast, it’s amazing how fast you can reprioritize what’s really important. My first priority is to be able to walk again and to perform the basic functions of day-to-day life. My second goal is to recover enough to ride my mountain bike again. Obviously, walking is more important than riding a bike. When you’re limited, you decide quickly what’s essential and what’s not.
Likewise, while navigating my suddenly impractical tri-level house, I need to figure out how to save steps and trips. If I’m going downstairs, I want to bring everything with me that I’ll need for the whole morning. Consolidating trips is now a big deal. Forgetting my cell phone on a different floor will take 10 minutes out of my day to correct. So I need to think through in advance: what equipment will I need for the morning? If I need my phone, my computer and a cup of tea, how will I get all of that where I need it to be? Basic logistics now require more thought than they used to; it’s hard to carry much when you’re on crutches. If I scoot the cup of tea all the way down the counter, can I then get it to the table from there?
It’s amazing how many things simply got dropped from my to-do list out of necessity. A lot of stuff I thought was important isn’t. I skipped some errands. I canceled a trip. I asked people to travel to me instead of going to meet them. The essentials I still had to do: getting washed up and dressed, connecting by phone with the people I needed to talk to, eating, tending my leg according to the doctor’s instructions. And of course, tending Janet’s beloved garden while she was out of the country on a missions trip. I’m glad no one was watching as I was hobbling around the backyard on crutches dragging the garden hose, putting the ripened zucchini in my pockets to bring back inside.
The thing is, when the essentials take more time and energy to do than they used to, you need to think twice about what’s really essential.