Defeat was not a concept I wished to ruminate on Friday afternoon, with the fade of sunlight just beyond the window and the slow sounds of a cat snoring on his perch. I walked two miles to be home for an hour and walked out again into the fading daylight, two miles back, to make a phone call and see a client before the day was done. Was it worth it to just be home for a short period?

It’s too easy to feel defeated by my psyche, my body, by the workings of age and time and whatever jelly structure supports my brain and underwrites my mind. In the psychoanalytic parlance of my placement, I must defend against this despair.

The rooms at my workplace glowed from within, the counselors buzzing like bees, but by 7 p.m. the hive begins to shut down. A 7 p.m. appointment on a Friday in December is intimate with the crush of external darkness, the building’s brick exterior limned with cold, the week’s events piling into the room. On my side was a Thanksgiving anniversary, a husband there and back again, a Thursday wracked by low rumbles of pain, a sleep- then wake-then sleep again experience of confusion, then vertigo, then nausea.

We met in a circle of light in a sea of murk. We fought against the feeling of defeat. We would not be defeated. We could not. Or if that was our fate, we would accept it with grace.


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