16 December 2009

Dream a dream

I did dream last night. I don't remember what. Usually my dreams are vivid enough to stay with me, but this time, I woke with nothing more than the memory that I was happy for the first time in so long.

Things are not happy here. They are frenetic.

Years ago, when I was recovering from one of the interminable orthopedic injuries my body is subject to, I had to learn to walk again. When you next get up, think for a moment about the act of walking. Think about all those muscles and bones, all the tiny little connections of sinew and nerve. Think about what goes into each step you take. Think of how much you take that involuntary act for granted.

I am not a patient patient. I cannot stand to be on crutches; I dislike the clumsiness of the whole operation, and I don't like the sense of vulnerability medical appliances carry with them. So of course, when I was told not to bear weight on my ankle for 6 weeks, I'd had enough of hopping around in less than six days, tossed the crutches and was off. The injury didn't heal properly as a result, and every step was searing pain from nerves and muscles that were really displeased.

So I had to retrain the muscles, hope there wasn't permanent nerve damage in the foot I couldn't always feel. I paid excruciating attention to what I'd never really considered: the proper placement of my foot through each incremental part of a step.

Walking was part of the therapy. I could hobble a few steps, and then I'd have to stop, stretch the burning muscles. I began to count my steps: 10 steps, then stretch. Eventually 12 steps until I had to stretch, and on and on for months until I could walk a mile without stopping.

I coached myself along: I only have to get 20 steps. If I can just make it through 40 steps. I realized as I swayed down the street, grabbing a telephone pole when the pain became too much to bear, when I could no longer touch foot to ground, that this was the model for how I'd always run my life: I just have to get through Wednesday, then everything will be alright. Then I can make it until Friday. Then finals are over, or the paper is written, or the documents have been sent to court. Then I start over again.

I just need to get through Monday. If Monday goes off without a hitch, I am in the clear. Then I just need to get through Friday. And a week later, it will be January.

It will be a new year.

If I can get through Monday.

Go listen to some music: "Dream a Dream" from the album iTunes Holiday Sampler by Charlotte Church. This was playing while I was writing, and it was strikingly appropriate. I want to believe that in the new year, nothing will stop me. Especially me.

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