There’s a joke in my home that when a task is too taxing it’s just some weird form of physiotherapy. As if, every time something feels just a little out of my reach, what’s really happening is that some member of the medical establishment has devised some chaotic test of my physical or mental function. It's not like it's a stretch to say that the problematic systems set up to support disabled people are all benevolent ones.
John can’t zip his pants up because his hands are swollen? Physio.
John is fighting an epic battle with a lanyard? Physio.
John is putting together a daybed frame in a rare moment of supercripness? That might be more like occupational therapy, come to think of it.
All of this is inherently me running an end around on my own brain, of course. At an early age I connected beating the physiotherapist at their own game as a perfectly normal thing to want and achieve. If they asked me my goal, I’d always come up with something that probably had them running home in disbelief. I’m an ambulatory wheelchair user, but I’m also British, so my goal was to be able to score a goal in a soccer game. I went to soccer camps, I did physio every day, I won a most improved award! Another time I was convinced that I could become an NHL hockey goalie. My plan was to gain so much weight that opponents would have nowhere to shoot at and, as a result, I wouldn't even have to be able to stand on skates. Still a better plan than toddler John's focus on becoming a mail carrier. I'm not religious, but bless little me for thinking stairs would eventually become less of a challenge.
Even when I didn't have my heart set on some absurd goal it still required a little trickery. In my early teens, all the cool kids could snap their fingers to a rhythm. Yours truly stayed up most nights one week just so that i could learn how to adapt the movement and become one of the cool kids. I could snap my fingers! Didn’t do me any favours in the social capital department. But hey, at least I had sleep deprivation and a fairly useless skill to show for my efforts.
Now, I’m not saying we should all dive headlong into these personal projects to prove people wrong, or that we spend very much time at all actively thinking about battling our brains, but sometimes it’s a welcome reprieve from constantly bumping into the expectations of neurotypicality. If my brain is going to rebel, I might as well fight back. The best defense is a good offense, after all. The popular productivity discourse would probably suggest that you immediately think about how you could scale this type of approach. I'm not saying that at all, I want you/us to look at experimenting with crip productivity as an avenue for fun.
Which leads me to ask: How can you playfully circumvent your brain for a few moments? How can you trick it into thinking you’re being productive or accomplishing your goals even if your hyper analytical side might not agree?
I've decided to shift CRPL to a 5 times a week newsletter about productivity as I am fascinated by the topic, am in the early stage of writing a book about it, and want to have a place to think, and write, and create work about this vital area of thinking. Click below to join the daily newsletter and/or to help financially support this project.