Saturday, November 10, 2007

Voices in the dark

At physio yesterday I was enjoying the heat treatment on my shoulder--didn't have my usual book to read during the quarter-hour treatment, so I was just listening to what I could hear in the treatment spaces on either side of me. I couldn't see the other patients, or their therapists, I don't know any other patients at this clinic, so it was all very anonymous, even disembodied. but I kept thinking about the hospital sequence in Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel, where Hagar hears the other women crying out at night, and the ward becomes a symbol for all of suffering humanity. All the people in the clinic with me had come and put themselves and their pain and their weakness into someone else's hands. We had all come in order that someone might do us good and make us stronger, make us "good to go." The scraps of conversation I could hear through the curtains were most moving: people being candid about what hurts and where and how--not whiny; the therapists' calm instructions and encouragement; the little murmurs and snorts of effort. And I thought... "this would preach..."

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