Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Experience

I stayed in my room a good portion of my high school years. As much as I'd like to report that there was a girl in there with me for the majority of that time, I don't think there were too many in my year who would have appreciated the whole "video game" wallpaper scheme. What can I say... my parents weren't exactly quick to redecorate following my 14-year-old realization that Nintendo wasn't the ultimate authority in the universe.

That's how it went for me: wake up, go to school, run, return, and work in the confines of wood and plaster, sheltered from the uncertainties of the real world. No reaching. No desire. Only comfort and routine. The security of the known.

If I were living with that state of mind right now, in my current physical condition, I can predict two possible outcomes:

1. Lapse into a state of depression. See no one. Speak no good, no evil.

2. Anger. Unjustified anger at what cannot be controlled. My mind in a loop to sort out blame, exploring a never ending stream of "what if"'s. What if I had walked that morning? What if I had accepted a late fee and put off paying bills until after the holidays? What if I had paid closer attention to my bike?

Unprepared to deal with the world as it was handed to me. Bad things happen for no reason whatsoever; no amount of faith, bargaining with time, or hope in a fantasy solution will change that.

I accept it, and that alone is amazing to me. I'm sitting here, my right hand in a great deal of pain, the muscles in my arm flabby and waning, my legs itching for the open road... and I can stand it. This is the longest time in my adult life I've gone without so much physical activity. I honestly believe I'd have instantly gained weight and lost energy, but more to the point, wouldn't have been trying to reach my physical potential.

I guess that's a big part of why I exercise so much, what motivates a lot of my actions. Original intent of the species. Just what man is capable of doing, what he was intended to do living without self-flushing toliets and microwave ovens. Having to run from predators, throw spears with accuracy to catch a needed meal, and be in his physical prime to attract members of the opposite sex.

We're still ruled by that, in many respects. Intelligence and frontal lobes will only combat millions of years of evolution for so long.

This is one reason why I'm so concerned about my injury. What happened thousands of years ago when a man broke his arm? He died. Assuming he even lived long enough to watch it heal into a deformed state, his life would have been effectively over; the will but not the power to provide for a mate, no longer appealing to the females in the area, appearing, in every sense of the word, to be damaged goods. No longer was he able to climb trees, ascend a rock face, throw a weapon, grasp a large object...

I know we're far from that, but it still dominates my thinking. However, instead of letting something like this turn me primal and consider desertion, depression, or suicide, I can only see a new experience. This one not reaching as far as travels to distant islands, but rather a deeper understanding of myself, of how I function, of how other people function with one hand.

I'll live through this, and I'll return to normal, having living a portion of my life with a disability not everyone understands. I still won't claim to be omnipotent - I don't know how I would handle losing a leg, having a major operation, or being diagnosed with a terminal illness. I don't. But I believe, based on this experience, I'd accept it and try to live the only way I know how: keep exploring. Keep pushing boundaries. This broken bone may stop me from reaching physical peaks, but nothing short of death can stop the broadening of the mind.

A new perspective. Things that once seemed impossible now a part of reality that I must deal with facing forward.

I welcome it all.

Give me rain, and I'll stand outside to know what it means to be wet.

Break my bones, and I'll learn dependence, compassion, and ambidexterity.

Take away my friends and my family, and I'll understand loneliness.

Leave me be, and I'll discover life and hardship in my own way.

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