Awakenings

Some months ago, I saw a film called Awakenings. It revolves around survivors of the 1920’s epidemic of Encephalitis Lethargica, a disease which leaves victims speechless and motionless, and a neurologist’s attempts to reawaken them using a new drug. The neurologist watches the patients come alive through this treatment, but as the drug’s effects wear off, the patients struggle with spasms and eventually start to slip back into states of catatonia.

Some time after watching the movie, I sat with my pen in hand. I didn’t write at first, but I knew I could. I just sat there feeling that ability for a moment. That ability to sit down, pick up the pen and pull the paper towards me. My left hand lay on the surface of the paper like an alligator sunning itself. In my right hand, the pen, supported by my forefinger, thumb and middle finger. My wrist curled, and I wrote.

Sometimes, I paused to read over the words. I didn’t feel much about them. There was some fear that they would never amount to anything. Some relief knowing that there would be other words. And a wonder that the pen, the ink, the paper – the heart, the blood, the veins – followed my every command.

Every movement is deliberate. Every movement is a privilege.

*

The photograph features parts of Robert Frost’s poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’

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