By Larry Simoneaux
For many of us “guys,” it’s but a short hike from “stubborn” to “stupid” — even in the dictionary. As Casey Stengel noted: “You could look it up.”
The reason being that, for most of our lives, we’ve been taught: “If you ignore it, the pain will go away;” “Whiners whine, quitters quit, and ‘do’ers’ do;” and “If you’re looking for help, you’re not trying hard enough.” To name but a few.
Which tends to make us stubborn — even though we never see it in ourselves.
“Focused”? Yep. “Determined”? Sure. “No quit in that guy?” Best compliment around. “Stubborn?” Never. Not us.
The real problem, though, is that we never seem to notice that we’re on that short hike until it’s too late. And, once again, I’m about to pay the price for “not noticing.”
About a year ago, I had carpal tunnel surgery which (as you’d correctly guess) I’d put off until I’d reached the point where, if I tied my shoes, my fingers went numb.
Once I finally gave in, though, things went well. The surgery was routine, performed under a local anesthetic, and finished in less time than was needed for prep and post-op. Basically, you’re in and out in less time than it takes to watch a baseball game.
So, when leaving, I was told to “go easy” on my hands, and given some written instructions on what to do at home. All of which advice entered my brain and, finding nothing there, quickly departed.
Six weeks later, feeling well, and determined to start that hike to “stupid” — I was splitting a couple of cords of wood and pulling a few small stumps which — in medical terms — screwed things up in my hands to a fare-thee-well.
Of course, I’m again putting everything off, in hopes that a merciful Creator will see to it that the now recurring numbness in my hands disappears and I won’t have to confess what I did to my doctor — whom I haven’t seen since the surgery.
Were this the only thing I’ve done under the guise of being “determined,” I’d not be writing this. However, the above follows a heart attack I had several years ago when I spent half a day trying to keep up with a group of guys who were: (a) half my age; and (b) cutting up downed trees for firewood.
After a few hours of this, my heart basically said that I could continue if I wished, but it was calling it quits. This led to a quick journey to the hospital, surgery, several days in ICU, and a stiff lecture from a cardiologist about pushing things “too far” at my age — whatever that means.
Having been cleared to go home and told that “mild” exercise was appropriate, I left the hospital and immediately started that hike to “stupid” again. I tested myself the next day by walking to the mailbox and, on that basis and against my wife’s wishes, decided that trying for a mile the following day would be a good idea.
Back to the hospital. Back to surgery. Back in ICU. And back in front of a, now, none-too-happy cardiologist who was curious as to whether the bright light of good sense had ever shone upon my brain.
And so, while likely facing some repeat procedure or other for my hand(s), I thought it might be time to pass along a warning to all of you other “stubborn” guys out there.
Whenever something you’re fixing begins fighting back and you’re pushing, pulling, and muttering to beat the band, maybe it’s time to stand back and think about things. Perhaps even read the instruction manual — heaven forbid.
Whenever your wife or girlfriend has just walked away from both you and whatever it is you’re trying to assemble, get power to, or move on your own and she’s mumbling “I don’t know why I stay with that stubborn fool,” maybe it’s time to get some help.
Whenever even your stubborn friends look at you and ask, “You’re going to do what?” — maybe it’s time to just stop.
Because, guys, even though “stubborn” has its place in our world, “stupid” can get you hurt.
Ask me how I know.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org