What is cooperation?
Merriam-Webster.com says “cooperation” is: “(a) a situation in which people work together to do something, (b) the actions of someone who is being helpful by doing what is wanted or asked for.”
I hear disheartening reports of unmotivated SCIs, bitter about their circumstances, making life miserable for their families/caregivers. Not only are they unwilling and uncooperative to “work together” to get with the program—exercise, dressing, bowel and bladder, etc.—they resentfully and begrudgingly battle self-improvement, as well.
Because this character quality is lacking in so many able-bodied and disabled adults, I began explaining, talking about, and demonstrating lessons in cooperation to my grandniece when she was three years old. Teaching her skills for successful relationships is part of my contribution to her personal growth.
How is it that man is born with the reasoning capacity and capability for concerted cooperation, but it’s most often witnessed in the animal kingdom? It makes no sense; unlike the band of three bottlenose dolphins around Savannah, Georgia who work as a tactical unit.
The dolphin’s operation is to swim into the shallow tidal marshes. With their bodies, they patiently and strategically flush the herded fish onto shore. It’s life-threatening if one were to become marooned, but they risk it for food. They not only feed themselves, but also the egrets and gulls who have learned to rely on the dolphins.
From this example, I’m comparing the ministry of caregivers who daily sacrifice their health for ours to that of the dolphin’s risk, and how we SCIs benefit from caregiving, to the egrets and gulls reliance on the dolphins.
Come on, SCIs. Let’s get with the program! Yes, it’s tough to lose physical independence. It’s the biggest bummer I know! No matter how hard you try to deny it, close your eyes to your needs, and barricade your heart from the disappointment, the situation remains. It’s time to accept the new reality of being dependent on others for things we took for granted prior to disability.
It doesn’t mean you’ve lost control of your life! (Look for the upcoming series on how to increase the power in your life for the New Year.) It just means that others may have to serve as your backbone, legs, and hands. You have control over the energy in the room, negative or positive.
For everyone’s health and happiness, make the decision to cooperate, “to work together to do something” beneficial for all. Become an enthusiastic member of the loving team working toward your rehabilitation and well-being. It’s within your power.