Connections through Hopelessness and Disability
Talking about a dozen different ways to die, and a single simple way to live
Yoo-hoo! It's manic Monday all over again and I'm looking back at the roller coaster of a week gone by. I sit here writing to you from my play-space. Space where the silence in the air is as melodious as an angel playing the harp. The birds are constantly cheering me on like my very own cheerleading squad. It's as if the entire cosmos is conspiring to help my thoughts reach your minds. Yes, not just your inbox. Your minds. It's to know you've chosen to welcome my madness into your life. In case you're new here, I share the lessons I learn from the adversities I face. Come for the stories, stay for the lessons.
Since the lockdown began, most of us have been stuck at home. Some within the confines of their room even. I am not stuck in a room, staring out the balcony at empty streets. I've been lucky to live in a space where I can walk around. If you call hobbling on crutches and leaning on canes, walking. Since I tore the ligaments in my right knee, I spend most of my time immobile. On my easy chair, typing furiously on petite white keys, I spend my day. Does it suck? You bet it does. My usual day involves up to 6 hours of physical activity of all sorts. Now that I’m practically immobile, do I hate my life? Hell no! I've adapted. Almost instantaneously. How???
The secret is as obvious as it is incredible. Hopelessness. The medical prognosis is not bleak and while full recovery is unlikely, I've written off all hope! Entirely. Nada. Not a hope. I found that as long as I hold onto the hope that I'll get better, I will keep looking back at myself running a full marathon while rucking 15 kilos. And the only way to look forward is to stop looking back. I'm re-imagining my life with minimal movement and maximum fragility. The most important aspect of movement is not peak performance. It is to not stop moving ahead, regardless of the limitations life throws at you. Walking on... (with a funky cane)
Lesson Learnt: Hopelessness can be more effective than hope
The desire to get rid of whatever disease one is affected by, is also a disease. - Bruce Lee
This week had me losing more sleep than I planned. I now have a deficit of over 8 hours. If you're not aware of the flip-side of losing sleeping, wait till you cross 30. The connections I'm making online have me charged and excited. I'm running through the day like a hamster on speed. But the lack of sleep is showing up as physical tension and cognitive confusion. While there are no cutting corners around sleep time, there's something I discovered to help me until I replenish my sleep. Mindfulness. I'm not going into an esoteric explanation of the concept here (that's coming up on the blog soon).
But I will tell you the trick that's working for me. Walking. With a cane. I'm forced to make slow deliberate and careful movements. I'm totally absorbed in the moment, in the feedback from every muscle in my body and the environment around. One slip or an inadvertent misstep could prove costly. The intense awareness of my body and the environment prevents me from slipping into sleep-deprived sluggishness. As a bonus, I’m also distracted from the self-pity of being temporarily disabled. Who would have thought injury would offer greater impetus for mindfulness, than ceremonial initiation by an ordained monk?
Lesson Learnt: Mindfulness is mundane yet magical
Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. - Thich Nhat Hanh
As a participant in an online writing course called ‘Write of Passage’, I've been enjoying my involvement. When I received an email this weekend, stating we only have 2 weeks left, I felt a knot forming in my gut. Like the feeling of my cane slipping away on a wet floor. It's funny how I've spent hours imagining different ways in which my life will end. Death by fire, thrown off a train, stumbling onto a passing truck, getting stabbed by a gang, shot in the knee, and then thrown into a freezing river. Very 'Final Destination' right? So a man who's made his peace with every macabre end of life is suddenly saddened by the end of a course. Hah! That's a riot.
Just as life itself will one day come to an end, so too will the micro-adventures along the way. What matters to me now is making the best of these moments and interacting enthusiastically and genuinely. Instead of making memories, I will make friends. While relationships may also end, there's an infinite warmth in the momentous serendipity of a random connection. I am saddened that I will miss the curiosity, laughter, and energy of a disparate and driven group of individuals. Here's to all you beautiful souls. May you shine your light across the world, through your delicate thought and defiant words. I, for my part, will make an effort to create connections that last the test of time.
Lesson Learnt: Creating a connection is a finer art than creating an essay
Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you. - Saint Augustine
That’s all for this Manic Monday folks. I don’t really curate, so if I’m boring you, say something or there’s something you want to hear, talk to me. If you don’t know how you wound up here, yet feel strangely at home listening to me talk about movement, madness, and mortality, you know what to do. Don’t sleep on this!