I think nature must have a good laugh at our idea of permanence, as she wraps her vines about us.
I injured my leg while on vacation last week, although it might be more accurate to say I saw the end of a slow motion injury last week. The set up for the injury began long ago with repetitive activity that set the tendons up. I was already out of balance and the wrong landing on a run just sealed the deal. So, I sit here thinking. I’m one of those folks who always sees patterns, habits and a story in the events of life. I don’t believe in random, at least not how most people see it. We are in an endless feedback loop between ourselves and the Universe; and everything begins with a thought. I think my life into existence. Thus, I sit here looking at my leg and thinking. The imbalance of my body, at the moment, speaks to me of an imbalance in my thinking.
I run the stairs at work, which is really good for you. However, I’ve gotten so addicted to it that I haven’t been doing other things I used to love, too. Especially as running the stairs caused me to lose a lot of weight. The downside, of course, is it over-developed my outer quads, leaving the inner leg weaker and more strain on the tendons. Also, worth noting is it doesn’t develop your upper body strength, thus, these crutches are hard on my arms.
I tighten the brace on my leg and consider the lack of balance in my body. It really is a reflection of a lack of balance in my thinking. The first indication of that is of a low grade, but steady anxiety about putting on weight because I can’t run the stairs. The second indication is the desire to push my healing. Find a magic trick to heal up faster. These are systemic thoughts from a deeper belief system about well-being. To truly heal the leg, I’ve got to heal the way I perceive time and well-being.
I have to slow down and fall in love where I am in this moment.
I’m a firecracker loaded with gasoline. In person, I’m a pretty mello person to be around, but inside I’m always on the go. Driving to work has been my spiritual gauntlet, as I have to harness my energy not to speed every second I’m in the car. There’s a curious pressure in my mind to get projects done, as if there were a clock somewhere ticking incessantly. I have ideas, brilliant ones by the way, that I fear won’t see the light of day if I’m not on the move. I recently started a life coaching business, as I know a great deal about how to bring change and ideas to life, but I’m sitting here looking at my leg realizing I also need to understand ideas like slow, inactivity, and quiet to coach, too. I need to know how to have balance in my thoughts, to have balance in my body and life. This equates to working hard and hardly working. Yoga and running. Playing foolishly and getting the job done. Outright, unapologetic laziness and periods of industriousness. Dancing disco and sitting quietly to meditate. Balance. This is what my leg has given me. A lesson on the importance of a slow, quiet, occasionally frenetic, balanced life.
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.
The heaven’s are full of light, even in the darkest storms. This is not what confuses us. We struggle to make sense that the heavens are within our heart.
On the soul highway it doesn’t matter if you’re souped up on a Harley or riding a tricycle. Speed is not determined by the vehicle, but rather the clarity in vision of the driver.
I lost the trail. It wound into boulders and the further I hiked the more mesermerized by the beauty I became. Cliff anemones and blue flax peaking out along the trail and little critters dodging under boulders. Butterflies, in yellow and lavender, and red elderberry growing between stone can keep the eye moving, forgetting where you are. I turned back to head home and, at first, thought I was taking the right route back. Funny, but all boulders, after a time, start to look the same. I realized, too late, I should’ve paid closer attention. The sun was setting and I knew this was not a place to be crawling around in the dark. Fear began to coil and rattle its tail in my belly. I hadn’t noticed the sweating so much before, but now I felt drenched. If the stone paths didn’t dead end into a cliff, the shrub was enough of a barrier to cry.
I could see where I needed to go. My sense of direction solid. I climbed higher, though that gave me more apprehension, but I needed to see if there was even the vaguest egress down. There was. The cliff face, which was less than ninety, but more than a sixty degree slide. Mostly rock face, but many shale slides along the way would have to be crossed.
Five. Yes, that’s likely it. Five was the last time I crawled, butt first, down anything. When you are five, you don’t think of consequences at all and you certainly don’t concern yourself with injuries. You fall down, you get back up. It’s a simple equation when you are that young and scars and scabs are badges of glory. At fifty-one, I can think of a lot of consequences. A staggering number, actually. Had the sun not begun to stroke the mountain ridge her loving goodnight, I’d have likely turned back to scrabble the boulders again. But time was not on my side, and so, butt down, I began to crawl.
Your body holds five, like it holds fifty. It never forgets any of the versions you have been. So even as my mind was racing on what could go wrong, within a few minutes, my body was crawling down that cliff like a school kid. The body, once it’s done something, never forgets it, much like a dog never forgets a sent. It’s catalogued somewhere. As soon as I started to move, the file was opened, muscle groups coordinated and down I went. I slid, fell and got a bit scruffed up, but each step brought increasing confidence and ease. The cuts and bruises I wish I could say I took like a five year old. I whined a bit… or maybe a lot. Still, for those fifteen minutes or so, I was five and fifty. In that position a thousand other hillsides crossed my mind I had descended in my youth. The river hill, at the bogwalk, at the Bartlett Arboretum. Scaling the backfence at the Stamford Museum. The boulders that ran along the ridge by my childhood home. Crawling under the fence at Laurel Resevoir. I hadn’t realized it till halfway down the cliff face, but I’ve dodged a lot of fences.
That’s the beauty of the body. It holds memories. Some bad, but a lot of them good. When you trust it, it knows what to do and it can show you, in images, that you have done it before. When you have no faith and nothing but fear, the body can show you, it remembers your courage.
And the old, gnarled hands worked the metal and stroked the wood. A lifetime of odds and ends cluttering shelves and leaning against walls. Still, the fingers touch with love and affection such humble treasures found long ago.
Sorry couldn’t resist the title.
I’d been climbing the stair to the cliff path. The light broke the ridge and poured down the stair. Amazing moment, made more so by the fact I almost didn’t take the evening hike. I’ve been focusing on living more in the now, lately. Taking advantage of what is available in my life. Filling my mind with more nature and less obsessing about the minutiae of daily living. Something about a mountain trail makes me more aware of my good fortune and breaks my egos need to look for what’s missing.
Still, it had been a long day, and I could find a million reasons to veg out at home. This moment was a perfect reward for having stepped out the front door. A little bit of spirit in the mountain weeds.