It has been exactly one month since I drove my car into the side of a pickup truck westbound on Highway 2 toward Bemidji. After my world (as I know it) exploded, my first thought was that I was not dead and probably should or could be. My second thought was to call Milt (after I grabbed a paper towel to hold against my bleeding forehead. My third thought was that my life was going to be different than it had been just seconds before.
It was the worst accident of my life. I had serious injuries to both feet and a thoracic compression fracture plus nine stitches to my forehead. Nothing required casting or surgery or even an overnight stay in the hospital, but it hurt.
A lot of things came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly walking from the couch to the sink was a major effort. Sitting in a chair was painful. I could only sustain writing or working on the computer for fifteen minutes. Those of you who know me well, know that I am not a person who easily sits still.
But maybe hidden in that statement is the one good thing to come out of this accident. Maybe I am learning to sit still, to rest, to reflect, to stop piling one thing onto another surrounded by a whole lot of shoulds.
It was not easy to give up on my do list. I wanted to “should” on myself. I really did. One week in I hobbled out to the flower bed, sat on the ground, worked for five minutes, and then tried to get up. Not good.
I had to cancel several presentations and a workshop, set aside my book a month project, and stare passively out the window at the massive amount of garden chores and mudding projects that I had been preparing to dive into.
I rested. I slept. I drank a lot of water. It felt like everything in my life was suddenly being filtered through my inured feet instead of my too busy brain. One month in, and I am just now beginning to sit for a full hour upright without being 100% conscious of only my pain.
But an event like this makes a person ask a lot of questions. Why do I feel the need to do, do, do? Where does it get me? Who is behind the voice in my head that is constantly telling me what I should do? And if I don’t do it ALL, who cares? And maybe more importantly, are questions like what really matters to me? What do I feel most passionate about?
In a strange way I like that I am being forced to take personal inventory and not just racing down a path of do, do, do until I drop.
I don’t yet know what the outcome will be. I remember reading a story about a psychologist who had a client who didn’t know how to say no or put things down. When she came in one day he walked around the room and kept picking up things and handing them to her—a tissue box, a figurine, a potted plant, a book, a pillow from the couch. She just kept taking whatever he gave her until she couldn’t hold any more and began to drop items.
It is too easy to go through life and just keep picking up more and more to do and be without letting anything go. I’ve been doing workshops since 1985. I’ve sat in a room with thousands of people, listening to their requests,their hurts, their desired outcomes until once face blurs with another. I’ve planted a garden every years since I had my first house in 1979. I’ve written nearly twenty books. And now we’ve built three straw bale structures that need my expert mudding attention:)
Is there a little voice in my head that says, “But what about me?”
Maybe it is time I sat in silence and stillness with her and listened to all she has to say. I have no idea what that might mean, but I don’t want to dance to every single should (and could—it is just as demanding) that emerges out of my mind. I want to be intentional. Careful. Generous and gentle with myself.
The only thing I am slowly beginning to get back to is finishing my books. It felt good to re-engage my story self and set her loose upon the world again. And the only other things that matter to me are love and creativity, and I have those in great abundance around me.
I wonder if this blog will continue on as I re-emerge from my recovery. We shall see.
Peace to all of you and take great care with yourself and those you love. It is really all that matters.
And special thanks to my husband, Milt Lee, for taking such good care of me. You and me were meant to be.