It Sneaks Up On You

It was the phone that started it all and in more than one way.

In the middle of last week, my phone crapped out. The jack for the headset plug started emitting screeching feedback noises that threatened to burst the eardrums of whoever I was talking to, so I switched to speakerphone (can't hold the thing to my ear) while waiting for the snow to clear enough that I could get out there and buy a new phone.

As I was on my way home last Friday, new phone in my backpack, it occurred to me to notice that I’d been pretty busy for a few days. I’d done rather a lot of photo editing, rattled along in a van to visit my mother, had paid for it, sure, but yet, judging the hike down to Staples the day after as an acceptable risk was new within the context of the past few arm-injured months. And that’s when I realized that my arm was better. And that my mind had become more clear, that I could think. That I had ideas I was itching to write down.

It’s funny how it can sneak up on you, how pain and reduced ability can become the norm and you disappear into another world of caution, wandering around in a pain- and meds-induced haze of putting one foot (so to speak) in front of the other, just getting through with your head down and your teeth gritted, not noticing the sun, other people or the antics of the cat. Or the slow improvement that’s happening underneath it all. Because it's been like that for weeks, sometimes months and you become so used to feeling like crap that the tiny improvements that are happening don't register, because in the grand scheme of things, you're still feeling like crap. And then one day, you realize that you've edited 15 photographs and sure, you had to sit still afterwards and pop some codeine, but six weeks before, doing minimal edits to one came close to making you cry. And most of the time, you'd been sitting still, asking yourself why, oh why, you tempted fate, invited hubris and nemesis and all those Greek forces bound and determined to mess up your life when you cockily talked about being happy and doing really well, because after awhile, you start seeing a causal relationship between shooting off your mouth and subsequent punishment. Which frankly makes me nervous about posting this.

And while we're about inviting calamity, a little while ago, when I was feeling very stressed and cranky about not having the time or mental space to write, I remembered once reading that Larry Hagman didn't speak every Sunday. He had discovered that practicing a day of silence once a week did much to bring peace to his soul and I idly wondered if maybe I should adopt this practice. Except, maybe not a whole day, because that's an awful lot of not talking. Maybe a few hours to start.

Pretty blatant foreshadowing, wasn't it? Because on Sunday, after four days of using the speakerphone, which apparently put a strain on my voice, I lost it. My voice, that is. Not just the fun laryngitis I get when I have a cold where I sound like Minnie Mouse, but can still speak, much to the amusement of the people in my life. No, on Sunday, there was no speaking, because speaking hurt and my body was making it crystal clear to me that if I didn't shut up, something bad could happen to my vocal chords. So I did. Shut up. Much to the amusement of the people in my life. When I was little, my parents used to say that I'd been vaccinated with a gramophone needle, which sounds much funnier in Danish, but I believe that their point may have been that I talked a lot. And never grew out of it.

So here I've been, arm recuperating, but still not enough that I should be typing (come to think of it, I shouldn't be typing, period), voice being sentenced to rest, which meant no talking, which meant no Dragon, which meant no communication. None. For days and I still have to be careful, do my talking in short bursts with rest in between, much the same pattern as slowly increasing the use of my arm. It's rehab all ‘round and just like the song says, I didn't want to go there, but in the end, didn't have a choice.

I've been envying Steph and her trip to the woods, revisiting my dreams of escaping to the silence of an isolated cabin somewhere, in the woods, on a beach, it doesn't matter really, as long as I could go to a place where the relentless noise of being busy, to-do lists, ringing telephones and all the other accoutrements of a life would go away in favour of stillness and space, both physical and mental, to write. Be careful what you wish for. Because apparently, the universe heard my wish and decided to give me the next best thing - rest and stillness at home. I just wish it would've consulted me first so I could have reminded it that I need my voice to write.

Ah well. It's a work in progress.

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