As many of you know, earlier in the year I had an argument with a patch of ice and tore my right quad muscle. Even though I saw my checking account flash before my eyes, I called paramedics to cart me away to United Hospital where I had surgery less than twenty-four hours after my accident. Only now I’m questioning if indeed it was an accident. After six months of depression, frustration, hopefulness, and sometimes resignation, I’m starting to see a larger purpose in what appeared to be misfortune.
While being visited by what felt like a hundred nurses during the first month home from the hospital, I gradually went from wearing a brace and being told to keep my leg as straight as possible even when sleeping (don’t they know how much those damn things itch???), to its grateful removal and getting around with the help of a walker. In retrospect, my initial stages of recovery went by faster than they seemed to at the time, and before long I was needing only a cane for support and was able to return to work.
I’ve been a runner for nearly fifty years now and have relied on my solitary workouts to keep my endorphins flowing and my dysthymia (I’ve had a low-grade depression since my youth) under control. At my age it would be prudent to have a backup exercise plan for yoga or maybe tai chi, but right now running just plain feels good to me. I’ve heard it said by a few different people “It’s impossible to evaluate an insane thought system while engaged in the same system.” So I really have not been able to honestly assess where I’m at mental health-wise. Its only recently that I’ve fessed up that my depression has traveled a grade lower than normal. The early prognosis was to run again at four months after the accident, June 8th. That date came and went and I was still not able to run. July 8th came and went and I was still able to only do prescribed exercises from my physical therapist, none of which pointed to putting the necessary pressure on my injured leg for running. I implemented them lethargically. After a few treadmill walk/jog sessions at my gym, I was finally able to run outside for the first time last week. A combination of walking and running netted me a distance of one half mile of actual running time. Heaven. I sincerely did not know how much I had missed my workouts.
The unplanned emotional ups and downs of the last six months have been trying to say the least. In their midst I’ve felt energized at times, and amazed at the progress of my rehab, but also depressed at missing the effect of one of my favorite activities. Meditation has usually been my savior, along with reading inspiration material, but neither have worked to lift me out of the abyss I’ve been unwittingly swirling around in. It has led to a time of contemplation over the last few weeks, questioning everything in sight: my health, my age (sixty-six), my purpose in life, and why I’ve come to dislike my job so much lately. And I don’t remember seeing a statement in my high school yearbook next to my picture saying “most likely to spend his life in a call center.” My AA sponsor once told me he thought I was “the most underemployed person I’ve ever met.” The work I do for a living provides a very valuable service. Still, over the years I’ve felt that I’ve always been an underachiever, an intelligent person and yet one who sits on the sidelines and marvels at the performances of people around me who seem to know so much more than I do and who “go for the gold” so to speak in the form of promotions. That is to say, more often than not I’ve felt like a square peg in a round office.
The synchronicity of the reading material I seem to have magically gravitated toward over the last three weeks has been astounding. On a “whim,” I went to a Barnes and Noble on my lunch hour and picked up a copy of “Many Lives, Many Masters.” I needed to have my faith restored again in the complexity and wonder of what we call our universe. It worked. From there I’ve gone on to the “Conversations With God” series, the books by Neale Donald Walsh that stirred controversy in the nineties, as books that claim to contain the actual words of God will do. During my downtime my outlook has become jaded. Muted. Dulled. I feel like I’ve been living in a slow motion insane, boring movie. As my anticipation of childlike wonder just around the corner grows in me, my attitude is ever so gently becoming one of looking for possibilities, of expressing my creative side once again. I had an unmistakable nudge to write again today (it’s been four months) and am following up on it. I feel a bit rusty, but the only way to get better at writing is to write. Or so I’ve heard. It also has a healing effect on me, and I also enjoy that it seems to reach a few folks here and there who find resonance in the words that pass through me. That is a pleasure. As is running. And entertaining an audience with song and stories. I’m getting a bit worked up just thinking about it.
Age sixty-six is not dead. I forget sometimes about the rhythms of Life, and that every day I’m going into uncharted waters. We all have conversations with God. I’ve read “Many are called but few are chosen” modified to “All are called but few choose to listen.” I’m listening again. With the assistance of lots of beautiful reading material, lots of meditation, and an occasional beautiful dream, I seem to be sacrificing boredom in favor of wonder. It has not been an easy sacrifice, and just the same I agree with the words of Alfred Adler: “A dream left unexamined is like a letter from God left unopened.” Dreams while I sleep have often given me useful guidance. It’s time again to let my waking dream do the same. I know this may not come easy. But I am determined. I’m very open to being in a very different place than where I am now in say, three months. I’m not at all sure where that might be, but that’s what makes life an adventure. At the expense of sounding very childlike, and maybe a bit naive, I will see you at the corner of excitement and wonder.
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