Sometimes when we push the limits, circumstances snap us back. Sometimes when we think we’re invincible, we get flattened. Sometimes when we misalign our priorities, we’re forced to regroup.
Those setbacks can be anything from job loss to personal disappointments to health problems. They all serve to put us back on our heels and screw with our well-laid plans. They throw us off our schedule for the day, week, or even lifetime.
If we’re awake, they also teach us something about life and ourselves.
If we’re smart, we get ?it? the first time.
For about three weeks now I’ve been fighting a head cold that Roy gave me after he’d had it for about two weeks. At its worst I suffered a severe headache, congestion, and ironically, a runny nose. Throw in some phlegm, fatigue, and a cough for good measure. Because most of us can’t (or won’t) take to our sick beds, I tried powering through because, you see, I’m very busy doing important, time-sensitive work. Oh, sure, I snuck in a couple naps and felt momentarily better but overall it lasted way too long for my liking (and is still not totally gone). Not that I was alone in that. There’s a ?thing going around? that lingers for weeks.
Then, Saturday, the day after a therapeutic massage, as I was walking to the house after performing a marriage, I fell. I stepped lengthwise on a garden hose, twisted my left ankle, and landed heavily on my right knee. It’s not my first fall. Like most people, I was stunned. Couldn’t believe it happened and stopped to assess the damage. I knew my knee was hurt but couldn’t believe my silky dress pants were totally untouched. The road rash covers about three square inches and hurts like hell.
I tweeted a picture to Grady who, at five, is quite familiar with this injury. When he called his first words were ?move the hose? and then announced that my aloe vera plant is ?a small miracle at healing.?
So I spent Mother’s Day thanking God I didn’t tear my Achilles? tendon (or break a wrist) and gimping around gingerly with my wrenched back and wreaked knee. I was in bed when others were in church and dinner.
But the pain was not limited to my lower body. On Friday I paid a dermatologist good money to do something called electrofulguration to five raised spots on my face. My bangs and the side arms of my glasses don’t cover the areas. Between the shiny antibacterial ointment, the slight swelling from the freezing injection sites, and the red dots themselves that need to scab over in the coming days I’m a bit of a mess. I feel beat up and battered, but God knows I’ve recovered from much worse. So I don’t expect to succumb to my injuries.
But, yet again, I’ve been forced to slow down and stop. To ponder whether it was inattention or a karmic joke. To take the time to rest, refresh, shut down, leave the work alone, to put me first for a change. I’m not sure why this lesson hasn’t stuck, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites..