This is the first post I’ve written since my wife and I went to Africa in January. I meant to take a small break from writing, but only planned on a couple weeks. It’s good to plan breaks, but sometimes they force themselves on us. In those cases, maybe we should say that the breaks take us.
Chris and I are connected to a small education project in Uganda. We traveled there on business with only a brief sightseeing stop in Istanbul, but we still looked forward to the break from daily routines. The trip was fascinating, and it was a certainly the opposite of routine, just not in the ways I was hoping.
The worst part of the trip was not the torn meniscus I suffered. I still look fondly on that injury which I acquired spiking a volleyball between tall, strong African men half my age.
The worst wasn’t even the trip home, There were high winds, turbulence, delays, crowds, and I was limping like an old man. (“Actually, Dad” says one of my kids, “you ARE an old man.”) We missed the connection to our final leg from Chicago to Grand Rapids. The only remaining flight had just been canceled due to an approaching blizzard. The next available 30-minute flight home was in 3 days. We decided to drive home and tried to beat the blizzard in a rented SUV, but the storm overtook us. We slogged home, barely able to see the road, poking each other to stay awake. We arrived home at 2 am, more than two days since the last time we had slept in a bed. Even that wasn’t the worst part of the trip.
The absolute worst part of the trip was that my phone was stolen. Or else I lost it. More on the distinction in my next post.
The phone had enough personal information on it that we had no other option but to dismantle, then rebuild, our entire financial life. It took months to close, then re-open, every home and business account, every link between accounts, every user ID, every password. My wife was gracious and helped me without complaint or scolding. Sometimes silence is heroic.
For weeks, I felt too busy to write. When that was no longer the clear impediment, I started some posts but couldn’t finish them. Lost confidence? Embarrassment?
I’ve thought a lot about living with ADHD over these months. I’m treated and well-supported and still make mistakes. Tiny blunders can have huge consequences. A small misstep can reverberate for months. A momentary lapse can endanger a well-constructed life. Treating ADHD is more about reducing errors than improving focus. I wasn’t feeling qualified to give advice on how folks with ADHD can avoid screwing up.
Those of us with ADHD surf on emotional waves. A bit of passion and success builds more passion which can lead to more success, more forward progress. When we catch a powerful wave and ride it well, it can be a long, wonderful ride. When we fall, that ride is over and the wave moves on without us.
The journey to shore can only resume with the next wave which isn’t created by force of will. We wait for it. We climb back onto our boards, paddle around and feel for the swell of energy that lifts us forward again.
Four months after Africa, I’m starting to run and write again. If these posts were a job, I would have churned out something or other to meet the deadlines. This blog, though, is an emotional task. It is first and foremost about connecting with ADHD people who need understanding, compassion and some perspective on the latest science.
For the first time in months, I sat at my keyboard and felt a swell of energy, then something lifting me forward. The break that took me is over. More on that stolen phone tomorrow.