One year ago today, on July 15th 2010, I took a hike with my sister and our 400 dogs at Hagg Lake in Forest Grove, OR. We took no map and very little sustenance since the trail was a simple circle around a small-ish lake and we kinda thought we’d be done in no time.
Eight miles in we hit the halfway point of that not-so-small-ish trail.
After a much needed pit stop at the boat house, which included root beers and those ice cream sandwiches with the chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chips sprinkled around the outside of the vanilla ice cream… omigod yum!, I slipped on some gravel. The slip was so seemingly inconsequential that my sister, the most empathetic person I know, didn’t even ask if I was OK. Unfortunately I was far from it. And even more unfortunately, we had eight miles left to go.
My back seized at every point. Following that slip I was relatively immobile for over a month. Because of the sciatic nature of my injury I began commuting by bike rather than sitting to drive my car. It was simply more comfortable to stay in motion. Then in late August, just as my back began to loosen up, I got my bike tire stuck in a train track downtown and crashed with my feet stuck in the toe straps. Freaked out and bloody, I cycled seven miles home to Multnomah Village and that’s when the real pain began.
Paramahansa Yogananda said, “Pain is the prod to remembrance. The way of escape is through wisdom.” When I first read that I scrunched my forehead. Like so many famous quotes it made sense in theory but I wasn’t sure how to apply it to my life. All I knew was that every square inch of the right side of my body was in pain whether I was lying down, standing up, moving or stone still. The constant intensity of a nerve injury is excruciating and everything hurt. At that point it seemed ludicrous that wisdom could help my physical situation.
The deep truth is that when I slipped on that gravel, I took a knee, both literally and figuratively. I finally surrendered to the emotional pain and hurt that had been building inside of me since my life as I knew it blew up in New York. I let myself feel how completely exhausted and devastated I was. I stopped hiding it. I stopped trying to make it pretty and finally dove into the mess.
One year, 50 days of cleansing, 110 blog posts and countless hours of chanting later… I am back up. And I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been. I don’t mean to suggest I’m wise, but I’m certainly wiser than I was before, back when I felt bad for myself, when I felt stuck, frustrated and angry.
Today I understand what P.Y. meant because I lived through it. Those falls changed my life. I’m thankful for them. I’m thankful for the pain. Most of all I’m thankful for the journey and the friends who carried me to the other side. Because as it turns out, the other side rules. The other side is exciting and fresh. It is happy. I am happy. So I say, “Happy Anniversary to me!”