Wednesday, March 20, 2013

And I don't.

I fell the other day. Hard. So hard that I didn't know where I was. Suddenly, oddly, I was lying on the sidewalk in the snow. Like someone had pressed fast forward: one moment walking, the next flat on my left side. I had skipped a scene somehow.


So I stood up as quickly as possible and regained my composure. And continued to walk. It felt like a dream. The entire incident probably lasted 20 seconds. Flexed my arm. Continued walking. Flexed it again. Moved my fingers. Flexed my arm. Walked to the grocery store. Talked with a woman I know. Tried to concentrate on what she was saying. I don't remember much of what we talked about. Said a polite goodbye. Flexed my arm. Wiggled my fingers. Began walking home with a bag of popcorn kernels. And then these thoughts:

1. My arm is broken.  
2. I think I've broken my arm.
3. But I can move my fingers.
4. But I can't move my hand up to my chin.
5. Is my arm broken?
6. I'd know if it were broken, wouldn't I?
7. I've seen a broken arm.
8. My arm is not broken.
9. Is my arm broken?
10. Why are my eyes watering?

I've never broken any bones. Despite various opportunities where I perhaps narrowly escaped a broken bone, I've never broken one. Here's why: I always believed my bones were too strong to break. That's odd, isn't it? Why would I think that? Before this experience I had never articulated that before. I had never thought about this thought. It's like I had some pea-brain notion that my particular superpower was unbreakable bones.

So I continued walking. Eyes watering. Wondering if I had finally broken a bone. Feeling old. Feeling tired. Feeling stupid. Feeling scared. Feeling alone.

At home, I examined my arm in the bathroom mirror. It looked fine. So I showed my wife and she noticed the "extra-elbow-bump" I hadn't noticed. Plus the swelling. She wondered if I had broken it too. But I could move my fingers so it wasn't broken right?

Incredulous. That's the word to describe my feelings. And that's what's still bothering me. I don't want to acknowledge this. I don't want to accept weakness where I have always expected and relied on strength. I want my power back.

One of my favourite poems comes to mind:

There Were No Signs 
by Irving Layton

By walking I found out 
Where I was going.
By intensely hating, how to love. 
By loving, whom and what to love.
By grieving, how to laugh from the belly.
Out of infirmity, I have built strength.
Out of untruth, truth.
From hypocrisy, I wove directness.
Almost now I know who I am.
Almost I have the boldness to be that man.
Another step
And I shall be where I started from.

Absolutely one of my all time favourites, this poem has always helped me comprehend the incomprehensible. I realize now that I missed the ending.

I want to feel bold again. More almost bold than this unfamiliar boldlessness. More stable, less shaken.

And I don't.

I know this whole thing should barely even be mentioned in parentheses but it feels like it wasn't supposed to happen, that there was no reason for this. It's like a mistake instead of just something random, like an accident. And even though my arm is not broken, and instead I have this blossoming bruise around my healing elbow, I feel like I'm starting over at something. And I'm not sure what. And I feel tired this time. And somehow scared. And I don't want to start over again.

And now I get it: this is grief. Isn't it?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

OUCH! My gawd, that's an ugly bruise. I know how fast a fall on ice can happen. In a split second one April, I fell flat on my back and conked my head on the sidewalk. I literally saw stars, just like in those goofy old cartoons we used to watch as kids!

I hope your arm heals quickly.

Anonymous said...

Ow. I don't have the urge to ski anymore because I feel old and breakable. Hope you feel better.

Ken said...

I'm glad your arm wasn't broken. I as well, to the best of my knowledge, have never broke a bone. Pretty impressive bruise though!

I've been feeling my age lately as well. Like I'm half a step behind. And sometimes, that half a step means the difference between getting over the fence or having the cow put you through it.

.....heal well and take care of yourself. ( I stole a copy of your poem, hope that's OK.)

CLR said...

Oh wow...what a doozy.

It's like this post has read my mind...I have been having similar thoughts, tangibly feeling my age, and not believing it for a second, and yet, there it is.

Love love that poem. Plan to jot it down for safekeeping.

Get better!

wendy said...

I just love your writing.
YIKES...sorry about the fall and the "unbroken" arm (thank goodness) That bruising looks pretty nasty.
I have never had a broken bone either and am petrified of it. Gives me the chills.
That poem is really good.
Kinda sucks , I guess, to find you "lost your super power"
but hey, IT'S STILL THERE ACTUALLY, you DIDN'T break your arm.
maybe super power still intact. albiet shaken.

neal call said...

That's a great poem.

Mel said...

Oh, yes, grief will find its way into every nook. Any time I find myself overly upset about so etching - or nothing - I find that if I pull back the curtain there is often grief behind. Sending you good energy for healing both your arm and your heart.

Vinny C said...

That's a great poem. Weird. I've never broken anything before either so I've had the same pea-brain notion. As usual, the blogging world shows me I'm not alone in my crazy.

Glad you didn't really break anything... besides some personally set up illusions, anyway. I hate when life does that.

Kerry said...

I like the poem too.

You don't suppose that aside from the messed up elbow, you may have sustained a concussion?

Adam said...

sounds painful, never came close to breaking any bones

Bonnie said...

Here is a hug, hope it helps your grief. You have a strong support system

Alittlesprite said...

Owwie! I know how you feel. The other day the doctor told me that the ankle that's been giving me hell since I sprained it is now arthritis. Ar..thri..tis.. :( crap.

The Defiant Marshmallow said...


And fear. The kind of fear that comes from acknowledging, deep down, your mortality.

The worst kind of fear, because once realized, it will always be there hovering in the distance, or consuming your thoughts as you try and drift off to sleep at night.

(what a cheery guy I am, right?)

Sorry for the fall, the arm, and the loss of your power. I've broken too many bones. At least seven.

But I never articulated the thoughts nearly as well as you did here.

Heal up.

Oh, and by the way, you probably also suffered a mild concussion, just in case you were wondering.

Laoch of Chicago said...

From someone who falls quite a bit let me say, "that truly sucks." I hope your healing will be swift.

Philosophically the limits were always there, recognizing them, adapting to them and not letting them limit you is the way.

dbs said...

Thanks people. And thanks to Bonnie for the hug. It was just a bad couple of days.

Zipper Pouches said...
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