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Issue #10

The Inherent Value of Care

John Loeppky

August 25, 2023

Pink and grey blocks of soap are sitting on a wooden surface, some are flat, some are on their side. Inscribed in them is the phrase, “Made with Love” with a heart and a circular motif around the wording.
Love comes in many shapes, sizes, and…smells/Didier from Pixabay

Tasks Don’t Have to be Consistent

A lot of productivity advice assumes that you want to climb the highest mountain, that your goal is to outshine everyone, to live a better life, to achieve beyond what you thought possible. Cripped productivity advice, on the other hand, does a much better job of asking what you want and need. It’s not about what you can give to the world, or at least not entirely, it’s about what you need in order to be able to exist in the world. We can trot out phrases like, “Disability culture is about thriving more than just surviving,” but we have to figure out survival before we can get to thriving.

Take this Facebook reel, for example ,lifted from therapist and author KC Davis’ TedTalk and posted by the On the Spectrum Podcast. In it, Davis says, “...embrace the idea that care tasks are morally neutral. In my experience, people will exhibit mind-blowing creativity when they are only taught how to speak compassionately to themselves.”

The reel is framed around care tasks, or executive function tasks, things that we need to do do (or have done, or have support with) in order to sustain ourselves. Davis talks about deserving to be clean, deserving a sanitary environment, deserving to feel fed. I happen to think this is a good framework for cripped productivity as well.

As a person—but particularly a disabled person—you deserve to build a system that allows you to feel productive. You deserve to have the tools and the frameworks to decode ableist, ultra-capitalist, often overly idealistic viewpoints in order to translate them into a way of living that works for you. As disabled folks, we end up defaulting—if we’re not careful—to “I can’t do that.” Now, I spent much of my childhood in a gym where I can’t was a swear word. You did not say I can’t. I’m not sure I agree with that philosophy anymore. I think that I can’t is a legitimate answer and a valuable data point, but only if you know the ins and outs of why you can’t. Often that why is most valuable when it goes further than, "because I'm disabled."

I’ll give you a personal example. I used to think that I couldn’t change the tires on my wheelchair. It’s clunky, it’s annoying, it takes forever with my level of fine motor control, and it is sometimes enraging to be confronted with what feels like it should be easy. Then, I did it once—I may have been forced to, I don’t remember—and eventually I realized that I could do the thing, I just didn’t want to. Some productivity and self development methodologies would have you master the art of changing your wheel, and I’m all for knowing how your adapted equipment works, but I decided that this was a task that I could do but didn’t want to spend the time or energy on. I had friends who would do it, worst case scenario I could pay for it, and so I did. I couldn't change those tires except for when I was in an ideal circumstance so I decided that consciously making a choice, and having a reason why, was a much more valuable use of my capacity. Another way of putting it is that it wasn't procrastination or a decrease in my independence, it was me being productive doing something else.

Just because we come to the conclusion that we can’t do something (whether it is on a small or large time scale) does not mean that is a permanent mark on our identity. either. As Davis says, it’s value neutral, we can come back to these tasks later, our work—and you best believe it’s work—is to identify or seek out the strategies we can employ when those low moments come. We can, and we should, say I can’t, but what is harmful in the long run is not seeking out our options to come back to baseline.

Until Monday!

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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.