Monthly Archives: January 2017

Lessons from a handful of broken bones

Beyond 60 has fallen silent for a couple of months, brought a standstill by handful of broken bones.

It happened on a visit to my elderly uncle. I missed my footing on the steep stairs, threw out my hand to steady myself, and caught it on the workings of his stairlift, wrenching back the fingers.

Snap, snap, snap – and in that instant three bones were broken in the back of my left hand and my life suddenly swerved down a different track for awhile.

I could make a list of all that I haven’t been able to do for a couple of months: drive the car, touch-type, play flute at an orchestra rehearsal, most household chores, some yoga poses, and a fair bit more.

But it’s not just what my hand can’t do. My brain and body have both been affected and robbed of energy too.

What is there to learn from a sudden prolonged spell of pain and disablement?

Being forced to let go of the structure of my life and many of the things I love doing for a while, has been a lesson in patience. It’s no good lamenting, or holding a month-long pity party. It is as it is, and I’ve had no choice but to let go of expectations and desires, and slow down.

And in doing that, there’s been an opportunity to reflect.

What is really important?

Do I want to return to the exact routine I had before, or is there an opportunity here to change?

Thich Nhat Hanh recommends we meditate on the notion that, “I am of the kind to get ill. I am of the kind to die.” I admit, that until recently, I didn’t really think those statements included me. Now I have a new perspective, and uncomfortable one, but also one that can help to enrich life and deepen enjoyment of the present.

Any injury or illness points up our vulnerability and frailty. This break will mend, but even so it’s been a powerful Carpe Diem reminder.

Ask yourself, what would it be like if you suddenly couldn’t follow your favourite pursuit? Maybe there’s a choice you could make – to do more, or to do different, or simply to focus on appreciating the pleasures you can enjoy right here, right now.

Elizabeth Martyn: Beyond 60

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