Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

As I Lay Healing

My summer season has started off horribly. While Rock Climbing a couple of weeks ago, I made a lunging move for a hold. I missed, heard a snap/crack sound, followed by an excruciating pain, similar to smacking one's funny bone, radiating down the bicep/elbow/forearm area. My initial assessment was that I had managed to whack my bicep on a hold as I fell. Sitting in my harness for a few moments, trying to shake it off, then reaching out for a hold, resulted in my arm screaming 'STOP!' and my decision to be belayed down.

My partner and I sat for a wee bit, and shortly decided that we should call it quits for the day. That lead to our next decision: go for a pint and then go home and ice it, or go to the E.R.? I have had numerous injuries in my near 42 years and, admittedly, I am a bit stupid when it comes to pain. It's often difficult to gauge the degree of an injury to a muscle/tendon as the margins for severity are vast and, from my personal experience, it's often difficult to determine if one's simply sustained a nasty bruise or suffered a strain, rip or pull. It wasn't until I looked at my two arms next to each other that a significant void had appeared in the area that I had hurt.

It was off to the E.R. then. After a prolonged wait, I saw a doctor who pretty much immediately gave me the grim diagnosis that I had ruptured my bicep and would require surgery. I was devastated as I saw my summer activities drain away, swapped with a painful procedure and recovery process. No kayaking, climbing or mountain biking. I was completely gutted.

At this point I could go on a lengthy tirade about our medical system. About how I had to wait over a week to have my surgery. About being admitted to hospital on a Tuesday and having to repeat an average of 18 hours of fasting for three days, but getting bumped from the O.R. list at the day's end. About not being kept informed as to what my surgery would entail. There's simply no point and, in the end, I am lucky to have had the surgery at all and, compared to the circumstances far more dire being faced by others, a buggered arm is minor.

This being said, and as a product of my western bourgeois life, I am left with lots of time on my hands to contemplate my future as they pertain to activities. I am a physical person. It's largely who I am and what I do. I pride myself on the fact that I'm coming up on the ripe age of 42, yet can keep pace and even surpass people half my age when it comes to physical activities. Now I am faced with close to a year before I can train as 'normal'. I also need to assess whether or not I will go rock climbing again, or if the risk of injury, coupled with age, make it worth my while. Last summer I took some nasty tumbles off my mountain bike, sustaining a fair number of abrasions and bruises. Being freaked out by injury now, makes me question if I will ride as I once did.

And this is the scary part of it all - living with that fear. Letting fear guide your decisions and ambitions in life is no way to live, at least not from my point of view. I am by no means a reckless individual, but I do live to push my limits. I subscribe to Neitzsche's idea that "He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying." My aspirations are always to fly in the end, but I enjoy the build up and training that eventually results in such a goal. This being said, if one becomes fearful of simply standing, then one simply will not achieve that, let alone more lofty aspirations. And it is at this point of trying to stand that I am presently unsure of myself. Neitzsche continues by asking: "Is life not a thousand times too short for us to bore ourselves?" This is resonate of the mantra inscribed on my tattoo which quotes Helen Keller: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing".

The rational response to my quandary is to simply take one day at a time. The journey. The slowly measured paces and conditioning necessary to achieve one's arrival. This makes perfect sense if it were possible to separate the rational from the emotional. Ultimately, the aspect of fear will influence my ability to think rationally, creating a catch-22 of sorts. Being over cautious or over exuberant are both likely outcomes, neither allowing one to gain any sense of certainty nor allowing me to find the secure footing necessary to carrying onward. I know, as I mend, the anxiety of my situation will dissipate to some extent, but that's not where my head is at right now. Even realising this does not result in any abatement of my anxieties.

In the end, I try to live according to the Buddha's teachings of being in the moment, freeing myself from my attachments and accepting that we all must endure certain hardships over one's life. In the same breath, accepting these very sensible teachings and knowing, deep down, that they are spot on is one thing, habituating these teachings - to live the message - is quite another.

This is, in essence, life. Never black or white; never truly anything accept that which it is. As the Buddha taught: "Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals." and, such is the manner of my ambitions and life. I take myself way too seriously, given the insignificance of the tiny corner of time which I inhabit. In context, however, my insignificant piece is all that I will ever know, making the microscopic grain monolithic in my mind. To conclude, the Buddha taught; "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world."Thus I must fortify my mind as it wages against matter. To be that monolith in its microscopic milieu. It is all I will ever have.


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