I’ve taken to wearing a spoon pendant lately. You might have noticed it in the video I made for my GoFundMe campaign to support my participation in the Futurescapes Writers’ Workshop. The story behind the spoon is a simple one, but it’s important.
The spoon pendant is actually a pin that my friend Wendy Wagner gave to me for my most recent birthday. She brought it to me in a little box decorated with a picture of Frida Kahlo and told me she didn’t know why she’d been hanging onto it until she realized that it was for me. I gasped with delight when I saw the spoon pin, and Wendy said, “It’s for when you run out of spoons, so you’ll always have an extra.”
Most people who live with chronic illness or who love and support someone who does are familiar with spoon theory. The basic idea behind spoon theory is that you begin your day with a set quantity of energy/ability, as measured in a number of daily spoons. It’s similar to having so many lives or energy units in a video game. When illness and pain are an issue, simple tasks like getting dressed or preparing a basic meal can require significant effort, and this counts against the number of spoons you have available to get through the day.
One really bad days, it’s not unusual to run out of spoons—to run out of physical and mental energy and the basic ability to move or be effective—before the day is done. And when you start pushing hard and essentially borrowing spoons against tomorrow and the next day like an energy payday loan, things can spiral downward pretty quickly.
Anyway, the original spoon theory explainer is a very good read and can be both validating for people who live with this reality and enlightening to those who support and work with them.
So when Wendy presented me with this spoon pin, I quickly teared up. My friend understands, and she cares, and with this simple pin she showed me yet again that there are people who are rooting for me. After I’d had some time to absorb the deeply touching symbolism of her gift, I told her that when I find myself running low on spoons, now I have this spare to remind me of her loving friendship and so have hope of filling myself up again.
I’ve since attached the spoon pin to an old chain for easier wearing and because I was always catching the pin on bag straps. I don’t wear it every day, but I put it on often enough—when I have a challenging task or day ahead of me, when I’m having a bad health flare, when I’m feeling frustrated and low, or simply when I want to remind myself of the uplifting spirit of friendship and support that I am so blessed to share.