Friday, June 12, 2015

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn

All human plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.  - Arthur C. Clark

As it is with so many things in life, progress doesn't happen on a straight upward trajectory. It's more like a zigzag line with some of the ups going higher than others and some of the downs lower. That's exactly what's happening with my recovery from the knee injury I sustained after tripping over curled up floor mat at the airport entrance. (It's the 1 month anniversary of the fall and somehow I'm still not in the mood to celebrate.)

While writing my last post, I felt that I was well down the road to recovery. At the time, I'd come off a nice stretch of days with schedules that allowed lots of time for elevating and icing. That process allowed me to get my Fitbit step totals close to where I'd left off. How I wish life could always go according to my schedule. (And other fantasies I entertain.)

Then, my mother-in-law, at 96 years old, passed away suddenly. At 96, you don't imagine that losing someone you love would be an unexpected thing - but it was. We'd just been out for dinner the night before, and though she seemed tired, nothing could have predicted what was to come. Just the the day before that she'd been in great spirits and perkier than I'd seen her in quite some time. After dinner we took her back to the senior facility where she lived, said we loved her, and promised to see her again soon.

The next afternoon my husband received the call that she was gone. She was putting together a puzzle just 20 minutes beforehand. I don't need to explain the flurry of activity that surrounds the passing of a loved one to anyone who's been through it. It all seems to happen in a surreal kind of mindlessness as our brains and hearts try to wrap themselves around a new reality that we didn't ask for or want.

There are so many parallels between my mother-in-law passing and my being injured. Both happened at a time when we each had other plans. I was leaving on a much anticipated vacation and she was working a puzzle. An injury was as far from my mind as I'm sure death was from hers. One minute I was walking through the door toward the check-in and the next I was on the floor in pain - and Mom - never finished that puzzle.

From the second that each of these events happened, my "regularly schedule life" was put on hold and a new version was put into play.

The immediate moments after the injury, and also Mom's passing, happened in the same surreal mindlessness. So many thoughts and feelings flooded my senses - the first of which was disbelief. The fall, being on the floor, feeling embarrassed and hurt didn't seem possible given the circumstances just seconds before. Either did the idea of Mom not being just as we left her the evening before.Then adrenalin kicked in. I couldn't feel the severity of the injury for about 15-20 minutes afterwards.

After learning that Mom had passed that same shock set in. We went to the center, were met by the workers there, talked to paramedics, police, and even grief councilors that came along with the sheriffs department. All of these things happened in a daze. It was interesting how differently my husband and I processed those moments. He became hyper and super talkative. I didn't want to look at or talk to anyone. I just wanted to be alone with Mom and then when her body had been taken, I wanted to go home - not talk about it to strangers - even if they were trained grief counselors.

This recent period in my life has reminded me repeatedly of how silly we are to believe that we have life "under control." Admittedly, I needed to learn this lesson more than most. I'm a certifiable control freak. My children posted the following on my refrigerator at one point: If you want peace in your life, resign as general manager of the universe. 

Once again, life has shown me who's boss. I still have my fitness goals clearly in mind. I'm not giving up. Even though I'm walking only half the steps I was before my injury and often get frustrated at the speed of my progress, I'm determined to go forward.

Going through these life detouring experiences has made me realize that I'm not racing anyone - except my sister - and even that's in fun. Life happens. It happens around us. It happens to us. It happens (especially in my case) in spite of us. I'm learning to accept that I can only control my intentions and actions toward those intentions. Even then, I have to be ready in a second to change my actions when circumstance calls for it.

I'm asking myself questions like: In the grand scheme of things, how awful is it even if it takes a few months to fully recover so that I can resume full activity?  What do I need to learn from these experiences? What might I be missing that was so important that I needed to be slowed down to notice? 

I don't believe that any experience is wasted if we learn from it - no matter how difficult or frustrating it may be. Hopefully I'll learn well this time so life won't need to keep teaching me over and over again.

How about you? How do you handle life's detours on your fitness and other goals?


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  2. It's important to have a goal, but when we experience detours, I think we can be flexible with the details as long as we stick to the goal. :)