I sort of worry this is turning into a “minor personal injuries and lessons I’ve learned from them” blog. But well, that’s what life keeps giving me so…lemons, lemonade, la la la.
I’ve read before that pain is a great educator, but somehow the great vast universe of mysterious ways and means has seen fit to give me a crash course, perhaps. If I thought a bee sting was painful, well…let me just say that an infected fingertip is no joke. It’s been gruesome and stupidly traumatic, and I can really, really relate now to those Theon Greyjoy torture scenes in “Game of Thrones.” I haven’t felt pain so searing that it made me nearly faint in a very long time, and it is just no fun at all! There is no playlist or movie that can really mitigate the feeling of shock and nausea you get when a thunderbolt of pain blasts from your fingertip right into your arm and then your heart, making it palpitate as your temperature drops and you nearly kick the doctor because you just want him to stop hurting you! Which is what I almost did; the nurse holding me down said I was a lot stronger than I look.
The most immediate thing I realized is how much one little finger injury can really derail my daily life. The injury’s in my dominant hand, and the result is that I haven’t really been able to type, or even write by hand much. (My handwriting looks like I’d been electrocuted!) I couldn’t go riding because holding onto the reins was painful, and I couldn’t go running because the motion agitated my injury. I couldn’t even wash my hair properly or shift gears as well in my car! I couldn’t cook much because I couldn’t chop quite right. I couldn’t swim and had to avoid the hot tub and sauna. It was like I also lost all my coping mechanisms in one big swoop.
What’s a girl to do? Apparently, enter a period of enforced slowness and relaxation. And you know what? That was really, really hard to do. Think about it: I write for a living, and I write for joy and passion. I write for self-soothing and therapy. I write to communicate with people. And I couldn’t write at all! My head felt like it was going to explode with a million and one unexpressed thoughts, reveries and ideas. I felt entangled in all this stuff, and didn’t have a way to order and structure it into a meaningful shape.
What’s more, I found it really hard to do very little. The interesting thing about it all is realizing what a “doing machine” I’ve been lately. I felt this constant niggling guilt and pressure that I couldn’t do anything productive — even though I knew rationally that it was near impossible! Even though I’m way chiller about to-do lists and making productivity more fun, there is still that mindset that somehow, somewhere equates my value and worth with what I do, instead of who I am and how I show up in the world. That was an interesting thing to observe, and one that gives me pause to think. Who am I if I can’t practice my vocation and calling? Who am I if I achieve nothing in life? People become genuinely disabled and have to think these questions through on a much more profound and almost devastating level all the time. And here I am with one little busted-up fingertip, having a minor existential crisis that I’m not getting enough done. Sheesh, neurotic!
But eventually I did chill out and have spent the past few days just healing and, yep, being easy on myself finally. I read The Portrait of a Lady and the September fashion issues coming in now. (Aside: how freaking bizarre is it to see No Age pop up in the Vogue profile of Hedi Slimane?!) To dial down the buzzy too-many-thoughts feeling, I’ve been seeing people more, and probably talking their ear off in a way they’re unaccustomed to from me. I cleaned out my closet, which is always a surprisingly awesome way to gather insight into my life and myself. I take more walks for exercise. I’m feeling better and slowly my finger is healing, and I’m starting to be able to do things again. But it’s slow-going. It is tough work, this being gentle and quiet for myself, but note to universe: if this is what you want me to learn, I’ve got it down now! Please, no more pain!