I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.Frida Kahlo
I chose that quote to begin today’s post, not because I am a painter, but because I am broken. So far, like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t seem to put Colleen together again. As I shared in A Post from Rusty Truck Acres a few weeks ago, I fractured my shoulder recently, and though I was advised that scapular fractures usually heal on their own, so far that has not been the case. Consequently I am walking around like the Tin Woodman, stiff and creaky with one arm held tightly to my body to stabilize the joint and minimize the pain.
Fortunately for me it is autumn. The first snow has fallen, and it will be several months before I will be back in the mountains for a hike. That gives me plenty of time to “take it easy,” as I have been advised to do by the orthopedic surgeon. It is a new mind set for me. “Taking it easy” has never been easy, but my aging body now demands it, so I have to pay attention.
How do I do that? Like so much else in life, my attitude towards aging has been a kind of balancing act. I go back and forth between qraceful acceptance and “raging at the dying of the night.” When I am in the latter mood, I shake my fist at the world and announce that I am still mighty and strong, and sometimes I believe it.
Recently while driving home from town on a particularly beautiful day, I came over the hill and greeted the vista of the inland mountains rising before me to the north, my view extending all the way into Canada. At such times I am reminded that there is still a wild world out there that calls me to explore its valleys and ridge tops. Fortunately my two legs are still strong, and I can put one foot in front of the other. I even thought seriously about perhaps doing another thru hike and devised a training schedule that would prepare me for such an adventure. At this point it is completely unrealistic, but it made me feel better for awhile.
A week later I was in my physician’s office looking at the picture of my fractured shoulder, the break in the scapula visible in the x-ray even to the untrained eye and essentially no different than it was when I injured it two months ago. I do not need a shoulder to hike, but I do need one to safely carry a pack, and at this point that is out of the question. Even the slightest pressure on that broken bone is painful.
Consequently, I am back in “taking it easy” mode for the last several days. On this side of the tightrope is an old woman who loves to read and knit. That old woman does not mind sitting in front of the fire, spending time with friends over a glass of wine, and gratefully retiring beneath a down comforter at the end of the day.
In my home among the pine trees, you might say I have created a kind of campsite for myself. Today I plan to sit in front of the fire, a new afghan on the knitting needles, one that uses scrap yarn to create colorful stripes. This campsite will do for a little while. I will follow the stripes instead of the trail. But what happens when spring arrives and the snow melts and the trails beckon again. What then?
Balance is never static of course. I go back and forth on that tightrope. Today the fire and the afghan. Tomorrow the world.