A New Space

I am recovering from a peculiar muscle spasm in my hip. While it’s easy to dismiss a muscular ache as far less extreme than a heart disease, or cancer, the fact is, when you’re in so much pain that you can’t move without an electrifying jolt of agony ripping through your body–you must learn to play the hand you’re dealt.

I don’t know what caused this spaz attack. I don’t remember stressing those muscles or doing anything that would put my body in a state of panic. I had to see a doctor and take a steroid and a muscle relaxer, with regular doses of acetaminophen. This made it very easy for me to sink back in a dreamy haze.

It also made walking more fun, and interesting, than sitting.

Up until this spasm got me, I’d spend hours in my comfy chair, playing solitaire, zooming around the Internet, checking the news, listening to lectures, planning vacations and–every once in a while–writing! Like most people, my waking world came through a screen, with music from two small speakers on either side.

Suddenly I couldn’t sit in the chair for more than 20 minutes without spazzing out. I was either on my back, in bed, with a heat pad roasting the sore spot, or I was on my feet, standing or walking the dog.

I found that the illness created a new space. Instead of spending hours sitting down, experiencing the screen world, I was back to reading (a 600 page biography of Mary McCarthy) and walking so slow I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful things were. While there was nothing especially new about this space, I explored the novelty of it.

And, when I wasn’t yowling from the pain, I noticed how much time I had been wasting in my chair. More than that, pain limited the time I could spend in the chair. I couldn’t just wallow in the digital universe. I had to do what was needed and then pull myself up and away before the pain returned.

If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have wanted the spaz to visit me. Who would invite an illness, or any punishing period of discomfort, even if one were told that the result would be a small, but significant increase in understanding, gratitude and joy? We live in times when it is difficult, even dangerous, to believe what we’re “told.”

But I didn’t have a choice, and I am still suffering, though the worst of the discomfort is behind me.

I can’t stay in this chair for long. The new space is calling.




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