My husband and I went out for dinner last week. Victor ordered crab legs. I didn’t.
I love crab legs; they’re almost as good as lobster. But I haven’t ordered or eaten them in years. Why? It’s the process: wrestling with that metal vise-like thing to crack open the shell; using those teeny tiny little forks to dig out a small morsel of crab; dipping it into the drawn butter, trying not to lose it at the bottom of the bowl and finally getting a bite to my mouth.
Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Ur, no, that’s shampoo.
But it might as well be crab legs. It’s all about repeating the same steps over and over. After the first few bites, it gets pretty boring. I’m not in the mood to play with shells when I’m really hungry.
Ditto for seeds, as in watermelon seeds. Let’s face it: the best part of a watermelon is that sweet juicy center that has no seeds at all. If I were completely selfish or extravagant, I’d sit down with half a watermelon and eat only that center section and only down to the “seed layer.”
Since I’m neither selfish nor extravagant, I end up with a wedge of watermelon that has, at most, three good bites without seeds. Then I am forced to be on high alert for small darkish shadows, the “seed aura,” if you will. And then I have to decide on the least offensive way to get rid of them. It’s just too much trouble; too much thinking.
I’m struck by how insanely petulant this sounds; I’m complaining about a few seeds or shells at a time when so many people in our world go to bed hungry each night. And yet, this is my reality. My ADD reality.
In the “bad old days,” before I knew anything about ADD, I was ashamed of being so “picky” about small details, agonizing over things that were unimportant to other people. It was only after my diagnosis that I realized that, unconsciously, I had been taking care of myself in the most tender way imaginable. I was conserving my precious patience and focus so they were available when I needed them most. Perhaps at school. Or with my sons. Or driving to work.
The older I get, the more I want to spend my energy on things that matter to me: my husband, my friends, my clients, my retreats, my Shelties, my children and their children. I have a perfect right to be “picky” about my choices. I’ve given myself permission to set up a life that accommodates my limited supply of concentration.
It’s OK if I decide to skip the watermelon and crab legs. It’s OK for me to sit at the back of the room so I can wiggle in my seat, or even doze off. It’s OK for me to work all night and take an afternoon nap. Because this is my life. Mine. I claim it. I create it. I live it. Even if it clashes with someone else’s reality, someone who adores watermelon, for instance.
I’m reminded of my favorite scene from the wonderfully funny movie “On Golden Pond” with Katherine Hepburn. Hepburn’s character is reassuring her young grandson that his grandfather (played by Henry Fonda) loves him deeply, even in his most cantankerous moments.
“Sometimes,” says Hepburn, “you have to look hard at a person and remember he’s doing the best he can. He’s just trying to find his way, that’s all. Just like you.”
I’m just trying to find my way, my ADD-ish way.
Just like you.