Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Art of Making Do

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As an orthopedic surgeon, I treat broken bones. Despite years of seeing it happen over and over again, I am still amazed at how well bone heals. Bone can grow new bone. Broken pieces grow back together and become mechanically competent.

Rarely does my job involve trying to get new bone to form. Most of the time it does. When a bone breaks it bleeds. The blood is filled with healing growth factors that kick-start a cascade of events resulting in the formation of new bone.

Most of the time my job is about trying to make sure the bone heals in a good position.

Kids heal faster than adults. And they heal so well, they don’t even have to heal in the perfect position. As kids bones grow back together, a crooked bone becomes straight over time. Which is the reason why so many kids’ fractures are treated in casts. They don’t need plates and screws to hold the bone in the perfect position like adults.

You Can’t Slow Them Down

photo by Sister72

photo by Sister72

One thing that amazes even more than how the bones heal is how well kids function with a cast on.

I’ve placed all sorts of casts on kids. Casts on arms that take away the hand, wrist, and elbow. Casts on legs that take away the foot, ankle, and knee. Even body casts that take away everything. And by everything, I mean everything.

Despite the casts, kids function almost normally.

I always asks parents how their kids did with part of their body immobilized.

And they always say, typically with an look of concern, “You can’t slow this kid down.”

Contrast this to adults. Nearly every adult asks me a different question. How long will I be like this? How long before I can do more? How long will I have to wear this?

When an adult looks at their cast or brace, all they can see is a restriction. A limitation. An obstacle.

When a kid looks at their cast, all they see is a different way.

They Can’t be Stopped

Nobody tells the kids to see a cast as an opportunity to find another way. Nobody sits down and gives them an instructions on how to function in spite of their limitation. Nobody helps them discover how to overcome the obstacle.

But they do.

The difference between kids and adults is making do. Take away something that the adult believes they absolutely need to function, and they stop functioning.

But you can’t stop children. They will keep doing. They won’t stop. They won’t let a cast interfere with life. They simply find an alternative way of doing the same.

If life takes away their elbow, they find another way to play video games or climb trees. If life takes away their knee and hip joint, they figure out some other way to walk.

The Difference Between You and Your Kids

1. Kids actually want to do what they are doing.

Whatever they are up to is important to them. And nothing can get in their way. Nothing can stop them. Especially not some silly fiberglass cast. They make do because they want to.

2. Kids have an endless imagination.

They view their limitation differently. The same kids who imagine themselves as astronauts or princesses, use their imaginations to find another way. They make do because they are not limited to a pre-defined set of possibilities.

The Art of Making Do in Your Story

When writing a story with your life, you will meet obstacles. Something will get in your way. Like a fiberglass cast that envelopes an extremity to seemingly render it useless, life will present you an impossibility.

And in these moments you will do one of two things. You can stop. You can give up. You can wait until circumstances change. You can wait until the cast is removed, even though the impossibility may always be.

Or you will can another way.

Or you can see your obstacle as an opportunity and learn to make do. (Tweet this or share on Facebook)

Have you ever had to make do in your story?

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About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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4 Replies

  1. So are you telling me that even though I have tendonitis in my elbow from writing, since I really want to keep writing I should? 😉 (I’m just kidding… well, only about the you telling me part.)

  2. I’m not at all suggesting that you keep writing with that hand. I’m just saying that a kid would learn to write with the opposite hand. Or to type. Or to use dictation software. Or have their friend write for them. : )

  3. Nah, I gotcha ya. I’m just being a whiny adult who’s frustrated with the lack of efficiency with the alternative ways… 😉

  4. Maybe efficiency isn’t what you writing needs right now.

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