It's been kind of rough lately around here. A busy year, an even busier summer and on top of all the busy, I’ve done battle with my blasted shoulder since January and I am sick to death of it. Because it seems to be neverending and every time I get a little ahead, something will happen - at times due to my own stupidity, at other times not - and the injury gets aggravated and after seven months of it, I have lost my bounceback. I no longer shrug, laugh at myself, sit still and take drugs or use it as an opportunity to rest. Instead, it just makes me cry and this past week in particular has been pretty damp - last Friday, while at the grocery store, I put some bananas on the conveyor belt at the cashier and thoroughly wrecked it all again. And it was the last straw. Then there was the inevitable taking stock of one's life that happens around birthdays and New Year's, plus some very nice socializing with friends related to the birthday. Which also served as reminders about what I used to do, but can do no longer. Like going out for meals with friends, sitting around and chatting for hours without having to spend a day or two recovering because socializing = pain. Like nimble minds jumping from point to point, not obscured by a haze of pain and painkillers, the debate an aerial ballet of ideas and I realized I miss it very much. I miss who I used to be, I miss having a clear mind, I miss going out, being part of the world. I miss my life.
At the end of last year, I wrote about not minding my small life, but this damn (permanent?) injury has shrunk it even smaller and after seven months of it, it has beat me down, ground me into the earth and flattened me. I am at the temper tantrum stage, the one where I (metaphorically) stomp my feet and scream that it is not fair, that it's time to stop picking on me, to please let go, please, because I give up. I surrender. I have no more fight in me.
Yes, I know. This again. I’d really hoped I wouldn’t have to do this again.
Afew weeks ago, I talked to someone about how a serious illness – like a severe flare - can give you the gift of perspective. Except, it was all theoretical on my end, because at the time, I had no perspective, my head being firmly up my arse. And I had a highly entertaining email exchange with Sheryl, after she told the story in the comments about her therapist giving her an assignment of doing nothing for five minutes (and naturally not doing it until the very last minute before the next appointment) and still, it didn't penetrate the miasma of misery. There are times when the fog gets so thick that all you can see is shadows of long-dead fishermen ominously dripping seawater and clacking the hooks at the end of their arms. And then, while I was at the park doing nothing in the sun on Monday, I decided to read a bit of Writing Down the Bones, a book I've listened to over the summer, one chapter at a time, getting inspired by the wisdom therein every time. At the end of the audiobook, there’s an interview with the author and I listened to her talking about how your "monkey mind" gets in the way - a Buddhist term for the part of your brain that convinces you you're too busy (or incompetent or whatever) to do what your true heart wants.
Sometimes, the universe has to hit you on the head with a shovel before you listen. Because that’s the point where my head exited my arse with a pop so loud it rattled the windows. My monkey mind lately has been stuck in this mourning of loss - of ability, of people, of self - and although there is an argument to be made for processing the grief, there is also a point where it merely creates static, obscuring the truth below.
It is indeed about surrendering. Surrendering to reality, letting go of the fight when the fight has become flailing, has become counterproductive to the goal of finding hope and peace again. I forgot that past a certain point, it takes more than sitting still, taking painkillers and pacing myself to the point where I want to scream with frustration because I get nothing done. I forgot that I need to meditate and that meditation isn't sitting still with closed eyes listening to a trashy romance drown out my thoughts. I forgot that meditation is an active process, that I have to participate and I have to practice living in hope every day. I forgot that when I don't, the slick black oil of hopelessness can permeate everything, sickening the soul and making it hard to breathe.
Iam not quite done with my temper tantrum, but at least now, I realize that railing against being bullied by the universe only makes it harder. And that I have to somehow find a way around it, that if I can't get through, I have to sneak past the obstacle and on the other side, life awaits. And no, it isn't what it used to be, but it is life nonetheless and there to be lived.