A Lesson from Woody for When I Feel Down

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by Young Lee |

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Column by Young Lee

“We’re all Forky, feeling like we’re trash, but we’re also all Woody, trying to convince each other that we’re not trash.” A friend of mine tweeted those words shortly after seeing “Toy Story 4” last year.

At the time, I thought it was a cute and pithy statement that encapsulated my feelings toward a subplot I liked in a movie I didn’t love. However, as work-related stress, pandemic-related stress, doomscrolling, and recent struggles with Charcot-Marie-Tooth have been piling up, those words now seem particularly profound to me.

For those who haven’t seen “Toy Story 4,” or are unfamiliar with the “Toy Story” franchise, allow me to explain. In the “Toy Story” universe, toys are sentient and have dynamic lives that they keep secret from their human owners. Humans, in turn, sometimes love and cherish the toys and sometimes forget and discard them.

In “Toy Story 4,” a kindergartener named Bonnie unwittingly bestows the gift of life on a figurine she constructs from a spork, googly eyes, and a pipe cleaner — a figurine she christens “Forky.” But Forky, constructed from scraps, doubts his ability to contribute anything of worth to his creator and longs to throw himself into the trash. It takes almost constant insistence and encouragement from Woody, a more experienced toy, to convince him otherwise — that he, Forky, can be instrumental in giving a sense of comfort, safety, and assurance to a young girl.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this dynamic between Woody and Forky. During such crazy times it can be easy to sometimes feel frustrated with one’s self — to feel like trash.

My CMT hasn’t been helping to put me in a better headspace. Recently, incorporating additional exercises into my daily walks around my neighborhood has led to a predictable outcome: skinned knees and sprained ankles. And while those things aren’t inherently shameful, in private moments, it’s hard not to see them as representations of the huge gap between what my body is capable of and what I wish it was capable of. That gap is difficult and sometimes depressing.

Confronting the limits of what I’m currently capable of sometimes makes me feel — in the words of Forky — useless.

From conversations I’ve had with some of my close co-workers, others in the CMT community, and some old friends, it seems I’m not the only one to have such feelings these days — though the source of some of my feelings may differ from that of able-bodied folks.

Despite the fact that all of us seem to have “Forky-esque” tendencies, I’ve come to the heartwarming realization that my life is full of folks who also embody the best of “Woody.” And I’ve been encouraged by every text interaction, Facebook video chat, and Zoom hangout.

We all need a “Woody” in our corner, and I strive to embody the best of “Woody” as well.


Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.


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