Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Simply Being

On that perfect 60 degree December day, the morning after Solstice, I decided to walk over to the river to see if I could capture the beauty of the fog rising up from the steel gray water with my camera. I climb the stairs to cross the railroad trestle to get to the waterfront as I do several times each week. I happen to love the trestle.  It has that old world mystique, covered in rust and the daily deliberations of the many commuters that utilize this line to get to work, or back to daily lives that afford them the chance to visit this beautiful Hudson Valley river town that I am fortunate enough to call home. I usually run up and down those stairs as part of a work out, when the spirit moves me, or shoves me into too tight jeans beckoning me to those stairs more rigorously.   On that particular December morning it was 60 uncharacteristic degrees and I was just all twirly in happiness, the beauty of the fog, the  school break, my son being home safely in bed, the upcoming Christmas spent with with my kids ... yes, twirly with happiness and me.  A joyous combination.

In that twirly carefree happiness, I was smiling widely.  And believe me, when I say twirly, it was a state of mind, it was not physical action I was attempting to gracefully alight the world with.  I was walking, slowly, and calmly.  Just at that ½ way spot where a platform separates the two sets of stairs, I reached down, my foot believing it would hit the plank tread, buckled. Instead turning under it suddenly attempted to cushion me from the blow.  I heard it.  I felt it. I knew.  As I sat composed and pulled together, in spite of the ankle that I could not yet face, I tried to determine what happens next.  I could practically see my house up the hill. I watched that hill for some time between several composed, pleading, and even frantic attempts to awaken my newly returned son.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was actually attempting to will myself home.  

After a few more unsuccessful attempts awakening said son, via house phone, texting, calling of the cell phone, I started weighing options.  I got close to the thought of calling that dreaded 3 digit code that brings sirens, and loads of unbecoming attention, and neighbors.  I know, it is somewhat ludicrous to consider the neighbors at this point, but really it wasn’t life or death, yet.  I’m not sure if you can die from a broken leg, I wasn’t bleeding out, and I don’t believe I was bleeding in either.  I would possibly die from starvation, or maybe water rat attacks, if water rats indeed climb those stairs and I remained sitting there long enough.  Just as I was deciding to weigh out the options of calling 911, my son called.  He sounded pretty groggy.  It was his first morning back home from his first semester in college.  And from what I can gather, sleeping is something he has learned how to do very well.  But on this first morning when he calls, to see why on Earth I am bothering him, I feel badly that he wasn’t permitted the luxury to sleep late, alone in his very own room, safe and loved.  By now, it’s almost 11 am.  Apparently since he has left, I have learned how to sleep much later myself.  It was not long ago that I would have been on that walk at 7 am, rising and shining and giving God my glory glory and the neighbors something to wonder about.

When he calls, he’s still unclear why he needs to pick me up, but he can gather from my shortened, clipped whimper, he should come quickly.  When he comes, he shares, he didn’t know what was happening, he thought I wanted help to gather driftwood.  I have to laugh at this.  It is not so out of the question that once, OK still….I would have called with the elation of a treasure hunter that just found gold bullions to have a child of mine come quickly to help me get a piece of driftwood, or a rock, or maybe a few dozen rocks home.  I can understand why he didn’t answer the first 23 attempts. 

After a speedy trip to the local ER, it’s determined I have broken my ankle, and my fibula and just for good measure tore my ligament as well.  It turns out I will be out of commission for a good 8 weeks and slowly back to walking with an added limp for some time after that.  Unless of course my leg heals as quickly as my cancer riddled nose did six short months ago.

The Universe seems to be sending me a message and I am having a hard time determining what it is I need to learn or accept or maybe even avoid.  It could be the outdoors, but I have had a great many outdoor adventures that were much more strenuous and the Universe smiled brightly upon these feats, completing the Warrior Dash, several additional High Peak adventures were checked off the list, driving cross country and back, camping in the Grand Tetons, and in a few other spots along the way, well there was that Brown Recluse spider bite in Oklahoma, and the swollen red layered bulls eye rash that formed across three or four states covering my thigh, waist and abdomen until I was in the company of friends and an emergency room with a strong dose of antibiotics.  I was lucky, the sweet little brown recluse was just firing a warning shot, and not it’s renowned flesh eating venom that can remove appendages and organs over a few days. 

Maybe therein lies my message from the Universe.  I have had a bad patch, some might say.  OK everyone would, and has said it.  Out loud. Some people can barely make eye-contact.  There have been offers of blessings, prayer groups, novenas and candle lighting.  But the reality is, things happen.  Accidents, ailments, unexpected aggravations small and large, happen.  And, sure, I have had a few more than most in a fairly concentrated period of time.  But I have gotten through with humor and the company of very good friends, the support of family, even if some are armed with quarters to light the candles and share a few Hail Mary’s when I would much rather prefer chocolate and a new pair of cowboy boots, or hiking boots or motorcycle boots for my next set of adventures.  It appears to me the big tragedies have been occurring when I am taking the smallest of risks, so I might as well just continue feeding my lust for life. 

I’ve been thinking of this in relation to New Year’s resolutions.  I’ve got some time on my hands, so thinking of resolutions as opposed to starting them outright seems to be a good way to begin.  I’ve been thinking of becoming more resolved in general. Being more accepting of myself is one area that I’m certain would benefit many aspects of my life and those around me. Sitting on the steps with great composure as I weighed out my options ended up working out for me. Like I said, it wasn’t a life or death situation, and my powers to will myself up that hill are not yet advanced enough to do a whole lot of anything.

The reasoning behind sitting with composure as the turkey vultures started circling, however, is maybe the single most behavior that I am ready to change or let go of.  Not only ready, but resolute in the need for it.  I was concerned about making a scene.  About gaining attention, about you know, letting the neighbors know I needed help, that I don’t have it all going on and under control.   The other side of that is being overly concerned with the perception of others, or more to the point the misperceptions of those same few.  I work too hard attempting to convince people what I am all about, or what I am not all about.  Instead of simply being. 

And maybe the resolution to simply be who I already am will help direct me toward the next set of adventures.  My son meanwhile snickers as I walk by with one bright red cowboy boot on and a cast up to my knee, on my newly acquired crutchless crutches.  What this means is my fractured leg is bent and attached to a “peg-leg” type mechanism so that I might walk and function somewhat freely without impeding healing.  Simply being me might not appear that simple, but it works for me.  And maybe later today on this coldest day of January I can limp down to the river and collect some broken pottery, or rusted railroad nails, or maybe I’ll collect moments of gratitude for all the beautiful things I have experienced this year and leave my twirling to the safety of my warm, cozy bed, the one I have been spending a great deal of time recovering in and dreaming of the year ahead.

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