I believe in the vibrancy and the power of the moment to guide me from a painful injury and through a difficult recovery. Two months ago, I shattered my ankle slipping on ice in my driveway. I came out of surgery with my foot held together by two titanium screws and the tendons reattached to the bone with wires and washers. I was also in for the most painful three weeks of my life. When I wasn’t in a morphine induced fog I was going out of my mind as pain surged through my leg for hours on end. During this time I also dislocated my already bad left shoulder. I was down to one good leg and one good arm. I literally felt like half a man.
For months, I couldn’t be a husband to my wife, a father to my kids, or teacher to my students. I couldn’t drive, go out to dinner, or walk in the woods. All the things that made me who I was were gone, and I couldn’t tell when they were coming back. I was ashamed. I could not produce or assist in anything. Not only was my life gone, my wife had been hijacked as well. She was constantly running to take care of everything. She was, for all practical purposes, a single parent. And I had made her that way whether it was my fault or not.
Every morning I would awake from vivid dreams of running or swimming to find myself trapped again in an aching and broken body. And I knew I would be broken the next day, and the next, and the next. On one of these desolate dawns, I started thinking about something Pema Chodron says – “The present moment is the best teacher”. I started thinking, what is happening right now, in this moment? Right now I’m warm in my bed. The pain meds are working so I’m not hurting too much. I can hear my sons cutting up and laughing down stairs. My wife is making me breakfast. In a few minutes we will eat together and talk about what we dreamed last night. I’m being cared for. I am healing. Right now is …actually pretty good. I felt the sadness lift and soon my wife came up the stairs with eggs, salsa, tortillas, and coffee.
Every morning, sadness would hit upon awakening. And every morning, I would say to myself – what is happening right now, in this moment? Sometimes sadness would hit when I saw someone doing something I couldn’t – but what is happening right now? Not what may or may not happen later – not what happened back when – what is happening right now?
Today I walked with a cane for the first time. In a year I might be able to walk the way I used to. In the meantime, if I am open enough, the vibrancy of the moment will teach me what I need, every day.
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