Icebergs Ahead: The Weight Beneath Our Surface

Last updated: January 2023

When I taught English, one of the greatest challenges was to explain irony. To be funny, I would say that it’s the opposite of every example Alanis Morrissette sang about in "Ironic."

Since they didn’t know her music, I was forced to go with the textbook definition. Here, dramatic irony happens when the audience knows something that the character in question does not. Then said person states something that would completely be the opposite response of an in-the-know person. For example, when I wrote about how happy I was to be seeing my neurologist when in actuality, he passed away 2 months before I wrote that article.

Unopened mail

As a Parkie, I am at the mercy of what I’m motivated to do. Since this letter wasn’t a bill, it was pushed to the side. Thus, in October, I read the sad news of my doctor’s July passing.

As I said in my article "Building Medical Relationships," it was his words that helped me accept my Parkinson’s diagnosis. Thinking about this loss hit home, in the same way other notifications of death hit. Somewhere between personal mortality and life connection, something that once was something is a memory at best or "nada" at worst.

Getting older means this happens too much. Fortunately, I met his replacement at a Parkinson’s event earlier this year. I’m sure I’m going to like him, too. That said, unopened mail is one example of all the things that I need to do, but I’m often not motivated to do.

Unfulfilled tasks are something that comes with depression and apathy. We often think of sadness at its extremes, but there is also the "blahs." As a former English teacher, I think of this as the Earnest Hemingway State of Being.

The iceberg

Hemingway wrote a short story called "A Very Short Story." At over 600 words, it’s a novel compared to 100 word story contests. To understand how this story conveys so much with so little, we need to begin the middle of the journey. We feel the weight of the history. We envision the future. What is left is the emotion and anticipation of the conflict.

Just like the iceberg in Titanic, it’s impossible to go around 10 percent of an obstacle if 90 percent of it is "invisible." Jack and Rose, take note.

Finding the energy

Regaining energy is a conscious exercise for Parkies. For instance, when I come home, Sparky needs to be walked. My job is to help deplete his energy while I exercise. As I walk through the door, there’s no time to sit around. Instead, I have to get to his big leg lifts on every fire hydrant he can find.

I’ve gotten better, but some nights are tough.

The surface view from here

He remained slumped in his chair, an annoyed look on his face, another day all but finished, as the television broadcast more meaningless entertainment, while his dog mischievously kept demanding attention.

Looking at the treasured picture of the 2 of them in his office cubicle, there was a feeling of how far they had come since the 1970s and all that she had been to him before their lives happened. There was a similarity in their personalities then, and now, he looked at the movement in his hand and the same motion in her head and realized how similar that they still were.

When out of town company comes, there is an expectation of doing the things that they want to do. Here, he wanted to offer top-notch activities, but at the same point, he wondered if he could keep up with the physical demands of some of these endeavors. He was relieved that his company chose to avoid those pursuits he didn’t know if he could do anymore.

As he walked up the stairs, he did his best not to spill her glass of water. It had been a long time since he had thought to bring it up to her, preparing it the way that she liked it. It wasn’t as if he no longer wanted to perform this small gratitude for her; rather, it was just that the days had gotten in the way of the routine and they both had forgotten about this small routine. As he brought it to her, she smiled thankfully, just like she did in the old days.

Today, on his social media feed, he saw a reminder of a hike that he once took 8 years ago. Looking back on his face almost a decade earlier, he reflected on that guy he saw in the picture until he drifted into an advertisement for a legal service that he had been recommended.

The submerged view

All the things we don’t say, but that we still feel. Those are the things that we take in until we choose to let them out. Here, if any of us are going to work around our icebergs, we need to illuminate out paths to those around us. Perhaps if we open up, it will be easier to open our envelopes up.

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