In last week’s blog I talked about how in these couple of weeks left before Passover we might notice difficulties and challenges arising. The purpose of this adversity is to prepare us for the opportunity we have during the upcoming holiday. Ironically, the title of last week’s post was ‘Everybody Jump.’
Cut to this week, where you find me in a big, clumsy, orthopedic boot. And I’ve been given strict orders from my doctor that ‘jumping’ is absolutely not allowed for the time being.
I injured a tendon in my ankle, had a minor procedure, and am recovering. In the big picture, this isn’t even a blip. I know that. But I am not feeling that. I feel a bit caged. Never mind how inconvenient it is to not have full mobility in my body. I find sympathy and pity uncomfortable, so I tried to keep this procedure on the down low. In my mind, I was going to be back exercising this week, fully recovered in a matter of days.
That’s not really how it went. So, slowly word has spread. My phone is full of well-meaning text messages from friends and students, many saying to the effect, “This is the universe telling you to slow down and take it easy! Enjoy the rest.” My eyes narrowed, as ‘taking it easy’ is the last thing I want to do. Enjoy the rest? Not seemingly something I’m capable of.
A friend of mine asked me, “So, since you can’t exercise and move around, what are you doing with that extra time?” I answered, “More work.” I’m sitting more than ever.
It’s my right foot, of course, so driving is out of the question. My bedroom is up a flight of rather steep stairs, which in the first days I navigated by sitting on the downward journey and crawling on the upward. The first days I was on crutches and the boot frightened my two year old. My oldest son and oldest daughter wanted to be empathetic to my struggles, but both were uncomfortable with seeing me compromised and limited, which to their teenage brains equates to old. My poor Abigail didn’t know what to think of all this; at two years old she has only ever seen me behave and look one way. The elevator at the office is under repair, so four flights up I go, slowly. Finding a shoe that works with an orthopedic boot isn’t the easiest task either, and I’m not talking about style, rather finding a shoe of the same approximate height.
A few hours after the treatment, I was home sitting on the couch with my foot propped up when the doorbell rang. My son Josh answered the intercom and an angry voice emitted from the speaker. Something about our trash being put in front of her house and threatening to call the police. He looked to me and asked if he should let her in. “No!” I stated emphatically. So, instead of letting her in, Josh would intermittently reply to her ever more shrill dialogue, “Okay.”
I’m wildly waving my arms to get my husband’s attention but he was on the phone and remained completely oblivious to the escalating tenor of the woman outside on our doorstep. And every time Josh said another, ‘okay’ she seemed to get angrier. Frantic, I made my way to the door. My urgency only manifested in two to three inch hobbles, as my crutches had not yet arrived. By the time I made it to the door she was halfway down the street, her anger obvious in the tension of her shoulders and stiff gait. I called after her from the doorway. Hearing me, she stalked back and accused us of leaving our garbage bags in front of her house on purpose.
I have to take a moment here to explain the calculus that is NY trash pick-up. Recycling is put on the curb one day. Trash on a different day. Only so many bags are allowed per trash day and exceeding that limit results in a fine by the city. Woe to you should you neglect to break down any cardboard boxes and place them in a transparent trash bag.
Long story short, someone was putting their trash in front of this woman’s house and she was accusing me of the transgression. I explained that it was not our household trash. She didn’t seem to want to accept that. Finally, my husband picked up on the drama and joined me on our doorstep. And we stood there together while a strange woman yelled at us about trash.
The reason I got up and went to the door is because I knew I needed to address this before more time could pass. Time creates space and I know how dangerous space can be. For instance, had I not confronted her, her anger would have festered and grown far worse and created a bigger divide. Space creates openings for misunderstanding and hurt to enter. I admit I’ve gained some insight because of this giant boot and it’s given me opportunities to practice restriction and gain appreciation, among other kabbalistic tools.
This past week, I was reminded of how funny and empathetic Abigail is. As she got used to the boot and my slower pace, she started limping behind me, so she could be like Mommy. She was all giggles and silliness and sweetness. My son Josh was beyond empathetic. He anticipated my needs before I could verbalize them, holding, carrying, and bringing things to me with attentiveness and caring. People that I would not have thought would step up, stepped up. It was eye-opening.
For the first four days I didn’t leave the house. That hasn’t ever happened in my memory. And it was blissful. I was forced to throw my schedule out the window. Of course, I’m completely over this episode now, and want my ankle back, but I admit the change was nice. Like one of my favorite quotes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.”
Thank you, Boot. I appreciated this past week more than I have most weeks.
Thought Into Action
If you are challenged by something now, think about what you might take from the experience. If your life is struggle-free, dig a little deeper. Recall a struggle from your past and see if you can find the gem of wisdom hidden within.