17 May 2011

Life of Leisure

In the wonderful world of Occupational Therapy we have some fantastic terminology.  Such as 'sensory integration' and 'neural pathways' and 'areas of occupation.'  No that last one isn't making reference to military strategies, rather to seven categories into which falls every activity that we humans do in life.  They are as follows (unless of course the Powers That Be of the Wonderful World of OT have changed them without telling me . . . or maybe they told me and I wasn't paying attention . . . or didn't care . . . or am too stubborn to accept the things I cannot change):

  1. Activities of Daily Living (dressing/bathing/grooming/feeding/toileting/etc)
  2. Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (cooking/cleaning/driving a car/going to the store/feeding the fish/etc)
  3. Education
  4. Work
  5. Play
  6. Leisure
  7. Interpersonal Communication
Our brilliant Professional Founding Father (or in the case of OT, most likely Founding Mothers . . . but who can remember such minutia) also defined that every 'occupation' (remember the 7 areas above) happens within certain 'contexts' . . . the most important in my career being the Cultural Context.  I have about a dozen ideas for papers rolling around in my head on this topic, but until I get another 'therapist' trained and an aide or two, give my gardener and house helper additional hours, and get a personal secretary, those thoughts will just have to rest in my brain or be satisfied with publication on this blog only.

My goodness I'm wordy at 3:30 in the morning when it's too hot to sleep and my hip flexors are too sore from starting to play soccer again after a 10+ year hiatus to get up and close the windows so I can turn on the AC!

ANYWAY . . . THERE IS A POINT TO ALL OF THIS . . . if only I could remember it.

One of my favorite aspects of my job is learning how to take all the important things a person needs to be able to do to re-live their life after an injury or illness . . . that is, as defined by their culture.

But it's not a favorite because it's easy.

Quite the contrary actually.  It's a favorite because it requires me to learn new things . . . because it forces me think and process and reason in a way that I didn't before . . . because it allows me to help my patient do the meaningful things of their lives.

Oh right!  The point! (Knew if I stalled long enough I'd get there!)

Play and Leisure.  At first glance they don't exist here . . . but with a little more thoughtful reflection I have found 'play' and 'leisure' here in Galmi.  Instead of baby dolls, girls 'play' with little siblings . . . I'd sometimes argue that this falls under 'work', but for the sake of my so-early-in-the-morning-I-should-be-sleeping ramblings, we'll call it 'play'.  And 'leisure' can be found when walking down the street passing the road-side collections of men sitting on mats, talking (or in some cases, cat-calling).

Our ideas of play and leisure are just so foreign here.  Life requires so much work . . . and literally if one doesn't work (ie: pounding millet or farming onions) one, and his entire family, doesn't eat.

The other day I had another one of those fabulous cultural moments that left me in awe at how different life can be from one person to the next.

My friend S. came over to learn how to bake a chocolate cake.  When she arrived we had some cold water and sat on my living room floor (since my furniture still hasn't been finished) chatting.  In the corner, also on the floor, was a 1000 piece puzzle I've been working on.

'What's that?' she asked pointing.

'It's a puzzle.'

She stared at me blankly.

'It's a picture that's been cut into little pieces and then you have to put it back together.'

'You mean, the picture was already whole and someone cut it up?'



'Well, they're really good for the brain . . . and for relaxing.'

She stared at me again.

'You know, after working all day at the hospital, it's nice to come home and take a break and relax.'

As she continued to stare at me I was suddenly aware, for the first time in my life, how seemingly pointless and absurd puzzles are.  For a split second I felt guilty about enjoying my down-time when so many around me don't have luxuries (which here are defined as 'electricity' and 'running water' . . . let alone an ipod, computer, internet, well fitting sneakers, a refrigerator, a swimming pool, air conditioning, and puzzles).

But being the great M. that I am, the guilt passed (very) quickly (possibly shamefully quick . . . but hey, this is a judge-free zone).  I could ramble on about for hours about the value and necessity of 'leisure' in our lives . . . and that even though I live in Niger, my 'occupations' still happen within my 'cultural context' . . . but I've already made my 'great story' anti-climactic and I'm pretty sure the only ones still reading are my OT friends and my mom.



Corarn said...

Nope I read every bit of it...and Loved it..Seriously, just can't wait to read the book.
On a side note big bobby and lil bobby are on a missionary trip to the philippines for 2 weeks..So exciting..Just wanted to let u know. Always in our prayers. We miss and love you.

Shal said...

Haha! I loved it, even though I fall into one of the expected categories. I'm available if you need a ghost writer. ;)

Gloria said...

You are wrong. I read I it too.  Gloria

Keith/Susan Metzler said...

 Wrong!  I read to the end and loved every word!  And I'm thankful you have a puzzle to enjoy while you relax for your down time.  Praying for you!

Kari said...

I'm still reading! (And I'm not an OT friend or your mom. :)  I love your description of the ideas for papers rolling around in your head and what it would take for you to be able to actually write them. :)

Deborah Berruti said...

 I've never been so happy to be wrong before!!  Thanks for all of your unending support!!! :)

Shamrockheart79 said...

And an AT friend :)