Really Skilled at Sucking


By Mark E. Smith

Imagine spending years running alone. Per your pace, you’ve gone from a 30-minute walk of a mile to running a 15-minute mile. That’s quite an accomplishment.

But, then, you get a running partner, and that running partner runs a 6-minute mile. What would you realize in this process?

For me, I’ve realized that this is my life and I’m really good at being really bad at much of what I do. I suck, and I’m proud of that fact. You can’t suck at as much as me without a lot of hard work and determination.

See, for years now, it’s been just my daughter and me in our home, where I live as independently as possible with cerebral palsy – and I’m pretty good at it, moving along at my own pace. A lot of it takes time and tenacity, but so be it. I’ve always looked at my independent living skills as the result, not the effort. I don’t care what I have to do as long as I can accomplish the task.

However, now I have a running superstar by my side – my beautiful fiancee – and it’s made me realize that I’m really good at being really bad. A task that takes me, say, 10 minutes on my own, takes one minute with her helping. And, for the most part, I’m secure and appreciative of her helping because I equally contribute to her needs in other ways.

Nevertheless, we’ve had an ongoing dialogue about how beyond my neanderthal stubbornness, she’s raised good points that just because I can accomplish a task doesn’t mean I do it the easiest way, that I often make things harder than needed, that just because I’ve used a haphazard technique for 20 years doesn’t make it necessarily the best approach.

Beyond me, her point is one that’s strikingly universal: Questioning how we do what we do can help us find better solutions, from our careers to parenting to everyday life. But, I have my point, too: It’s taken me a lot of years to get this good at doing independent living tasks really badly – that’s hard to give up when you’re so talented at sucking as I am!


Author: Mark E. Smith

The literary side of the WheelchairJunkie

One thought on “Really Skilled at Sucking”

  1. My greatest joy was in finding ways to make Gary’s life easier and more accessible as he lost so much to heart failure. His love of golf took me to the course where I drove the cart, got his club, put the tee in the ground, and offered my arm for him to hold until he had enough breath to walk back to the cart with my help. A year after his death, I find myself rearranging a room and wishing I had thought to put his favorite chair in its new location, because it might have been somewhat more accessible from his wheelchair. I had to learn to accept his gratitude, sweet smiles, and words of love and devotion in return. I really didn’t need thank yous for what I loved doing. His last words after his second resuscitation from cardiac arrest were, “go check on Sally.”

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