Ranger on Pain… and….

Ranger: “I am starting to worry about you. You haven’t been in the kitchen for weeks, you’re not walking on your beloved Celery Fields… or any other location, frankly, and you’re certainly not rolling out of bed each morning to walk me. What the heck happened?”

Me: “You should know, since you hear me moan and groan every day! That right knee that’s been bothering me the last two years? It got worse, and because I was compensating so much for my right knee my whole body went out of whack. Solution: knee replacement.”

Ranger: “So was it so bad that you stopped doing all those things?”

Me: “Worse. I’ve lost a whole friggin month to pain so bad I couldn’t even get into or out of bed… just stayed on the couch. Lost my appetite (scary, I know). Came home declaring I needed no pain medications, but within two days was taking them every four hours. Couldn’t drive, couldn’t walk you for sure.”

Ranger: “Was it worth it?”

Me: “Probably, but I still don’t know. What I hate most of all is what’s happened inside my head during the last month. I would read Facebook posts and get daily bad news about what this president is doing or not doing (I can’t even use his name) and about the melting glaciers, all the while watching our local temperatures exceed records on a daily basis. Darryl and you did your best to cheer me up, and Tia was doing the same when she was here, but it was impossible to grab my attention away from the quite literal writhing pain…..

…. but the worst? Feeling guilty for feeling that way. Who was I to focus only on me? Compared with Syrian refugees? Compared to people with a fatal illness? It killed me to realize how completely immersed I was in my own pain and misery. I’ve always had more energy than most people. I’ve always been eager to get out of bed and be productive through the day. This thing just leveled me, both physically and mentally.”

Ranger: “So, what did you learn?”

Me: “Here goes:
1. Slowing down is part of a graceful acceptance of your age and body. This was the first time in my life I couldn’t rise to the occasion and care for those around me, including you. Just getting off the couch to the bathroom felt like a major commitment.

2. It’s okay not to show up. I had one major commitment about two weeks into this, a climate change workshop I had organized in Newtown… and I did it with Darryl’s help. I gobbled up a couple of pain pills and he floated me over there and back, mostly in a fog. But everything else? I cancelled it or didn’t do it. I called people rather than shopping for birthday cards. I didn’t worry about what was going to happen for dinner, and you know what? Something always made it to the table. I admitted to Darryl that I couldn’t trust myself walking you, fearing you’d meet another dog and trip me up with your lunging…. and now it’s been five weeks out from surgery and I haven’t had you on the leash. I stopped worrying about trying to organize events for our friends… and even stopped worrying about it. That’s progress, don’t you think?”

3. You need to tell your “team” (that’s you, Darryl and Tia here at this house) that you need them, not the other way around. Can you believe that is hard for me? Ever the providing mother… that was my MO. I had to give it up.”

4. This has taught me how transitory and comically insignificant I am. I am dust, and will return to Earth, hopefully in graceful fashion. My grandchildren will remember me, but that’s about the extent of my influence. So to travel light, take no mental or physical baggage and remember always that what you do is important only if it adds to the support of Earth…. that’s about it, Ranger.”

Ranger: “I gotta stop you right there. Frankly, you’re just full of shit, my friend. Sorry to say it so bluntly, but those points you make are nothing but platitudes. What those Hallmark points allow you to do is pat yourself on the back when you recover your strength and give thanks for being back where you started. I propose that instead of heading down that nice recovery road (which your points nicely illustrate) you use this immersion in pain as a transformative one. It could actually make you a better person with a better body.”

Ranger, continuing: “I suggest you live into the pain, use that as a link to feel the pain of others (including Earth), the refugees, terminal patients…. you’d have a fair chance of learning to live in a better body and better head. You’ve run your body hard, expecting it to perform beyond itself in the service of others. Time now to embrace your own body for yourself, frankly. I would bet you’d discover a different, more vital energy. You’ve embraced your mortality, so that’s done. Now you can embrace the mortality you have left in a different way…. I’m on a limb here, but what do I have to lose? You’ve run your head hard as well. Use this pain experience to build a better head.”

Me: “You’re not much comfort. I thought I had this session nailed, but you’ve just shot me down.”

Ranger: “Yes, and you needed me to do that. Get over yourself and your marvelous mother image. You’d have a better life without it. Start living for yourself and if something drips off you to improve the lot of those around you that’s a good thing indeed. NOW, I’m exhausted. Leave me alone so I can recover.”

He's done with my Hallmark shit.
He’s done with my Hallmark shit.