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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

Spills: no thrills!

There’s nothing like an injury to help with a re-evaluation of the self.

I have taken a tumble. An undignified spill that had nothing to do with thrill seeking, gym antics or cataclysmic natural disasters. Just a tumble on something slippery in a restaurant which left me unable to walk for a couple of weeks. Torn hamstring, bruised knee, dented elbow and a thrashing blow to my confidence.

Now the injuries are not the subject of this blog, but they were the catalyst for a bit of self-reflection. I try to be a glass half-full kind of person who espouses the positive outcome of thinking the best rather than the worst. It’s not something I’m always successful at but it certainly my intention to embrace the best of things. Doors shutting windows opening, silver linings, fish in the sea; you know the sort of thing that we tell ourselves to get through the troubled times. And there have been some painful episodes in life that platitudes don’t quite ease and it takes some serious self-talk to find the way forward.

Yet one torn muscle and my resolve was lost, almost instantaneously. The physical pain seemed to motivate a tempest of negative thought and catastrophizing on an Olympic level.  “I’ll never walk again, my holiday is ruined, why me, how could I be so useless, how dumb, how stupid, this only happens to bad people, serves you right for not being fit.” And on and on the litany of my faults and woes went. And further on to darker thoughts about all the things I’d never be able to do again…putting on my own shoes topped the list. This slide into the abyss of misery was a three day ordeal that eclipsed the physical pain of my leg.

As I started to move again, almost pain free, thanks to my physiotherapist, I began to examine the fall into despair that so promptly followed what was a simple accident on a slick floor. How was it possible that I immediately abandoned my usual mantra “all will be well” with such haste? Surely the pain receptors in my brain were not so completely able to bypass my internal voice of common sense. But the volume of the negativity was so intense that the voice of reason could not get a look in. So I’m not as evolved as I had hoped!

Now on the mend (although not able to negotiate getting upstairs or sitting for too long) I wonder how my peaceful state of mind had so easily turned to chaotic, juvenile hysteria. Why couldn’t I see that within a couple of weeks that I’d be on the road to recovery? And according to above mentioned physio pain free after 3 weeks, potentially back to normal after 6. (Or did he say 8?) None-the-less however many weeks for normalcy to return I must consider that perhaps the fall was a well-timed challenge that tested my ongoing quest for a Zen-like state of mind. Maybe the Fates conspired to test my preparedness for a mindful life? And given my mind-set in those first days I would conclude that I probably failed.

So as I regain the glory of normal physical movement I might just attempt a less complacent regime of mind training. In the unavoidable quiet days of my recovery, as I climbed out of the crevasse of self-pity and woe, I have been able to really focus on how much I have to be grateful for. The enforced stillness highlighted the importance of choosing to be still. And in this quiet the imagination has been working overtime. Misfortune, it seems, is gold for the writer.

PS. I’m not recommending injuring yourself just to get a few words on the page.

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