When the din of the world has faded, and we're quiet, even isolated from the madness outside, it doesn't take very much to stir deep feelings, and inspire profound thoughts. When the rest of the world fades away all you need is a whisper to hear your own voice...your real voice.
Over the past week I have been frustrated, angry, in quiet tears and then more audible ones, disappointed, hopeful, disillusioned, and at least a half dozen other places worthy of some sort of acknowledgement. I've felt low and so needed to pull myself back up...felt cursed, or unfairly afflicted, when in reality there is no fairness in the deal. It just is what it is. I had surgery on my knee, a knee and a leg that's been a stressful, disappointing part of my life since that August evening a billion years ago when everything changed, and I would be forever reminded just what drinking and driving does...just how fast your life can flip...just how long you can have a reminder of something that means nothing to a million other people.
When I was struck by that speeding car, on the side of that empty road, it set in motion a unique set of dominoes...it made this past week, and every other one I've ever struggled through before, a foregone conclusion. I was going to have inevitable painful moments across the span of my life. That's just how it was going to be. I immediately thought of an old friend that I recently reconnected with, Sonya, and I thought of our good friend Heather, and of June's Uncle Lee, or a dozen other people that I'm lucky enough to know, who ring in each New Year knowing that this might be a difficult one for them physically. They struggle with this, or with that, and unlike my own painful path across these decades, they have no drunken fool to blame, just the universe. That's a tough target.
It's hard to explain to someone who has only struggled in isolated unrelated moments in their life. Frustration plays only a bit part, hopelessness doesn't build on top of hopelessness when everything is unrelated, or at least it piles up differently. It's difficult to type, and it makes me upset to say it out loud, but this time I felt myself come close, not to quitting, but to feeling as though I was losing. Typing that through wet eyes sounds crazy but not to Sonya, or Heather, or Lee, I'm certain. It's hard to juggle those tears with positivity when they strike you. This time it felt as though no matter what I did, or do, or regardless of how the future unfolds...I'll lose. It tore me apart. It left me in tears at my wife's bulging belly after an awful evening of painful, exhausting, nausea inducing exercises, and seemingly no progress. ..just more pain. Less than an inch or two away from my tears was our newest daughter, probably wondering what all the wet fuss was about. I wasn't quitting, but it felt an awful lot like everything else had quit on me. That's not a fun conclusion. In that moment it felt like just us
, with a footnote of mostly
I've tried hard not to allow jealousy to set in, or to make comparisons (because there aren't any) to anyone, and I've worked just as hard at finding perspective as I have at stretching. I've endured the odd flippant comment. I've tried to remind myself over and over that there are other people on the planet who do "give a #$%
," despite the universe stacking up a lot of evidence that in reality, everyone just goes home to their comfiest chair and forgets about everything but what matters most to them. It's funny, because I've shaped that thing I'll do for most of the waking moments of my life to be the exact opposite of that. I've tried to keep Sonya, and Heather, and Lee firmly in mind through all of this, and I'm confident that I've done a good job of putting it all in the proper perspective, but you can't know another person's pain, and you can't even remotely comprehend another person's struggle, and everyone is allowed, as Pat Monihan once cooed, "a time we all deserve to lose our minds.
I believe strongly that this fifteenth broken moment standing on one leg makes me better, has made me a better person, better at what I choose to do, better at understanding, at comprehending, at supporting, and feeling. I don't know what rung of what ladder I occupy in terms of being worthy of anything, but I know that there are increasingly fewer and fewer people who I suspect can muster the amount of earthly compassion and perspective that I'm absorbing each day. There are plenty, make no mistake, but I never imagined coming to a point in my life where "feeling
" became overwhelmingly my most developed and recognizable characteristic. I never suspected that I might find this much perspective in pain and suffering, especially because as far as such notions go, I've been blessed to embrace them at only regular intervals, not perpetually.
After thirty years all I really know is that I feel things very deeply, very completely...that there's no mute button on the voices in my head...but I'm also encouraged that in a quiet room, such as this, all I need to do is whisper to hear myself.
Losing is a long way off.
, who has watched me crumble and rebuild so many times it's unfair, but who always leaves me to my own voices.