So, I had hernia surgery back in May.
I had to take 6 weeks off from trapeze – couldn’t teach, couldn’t even lift over 10 pounds. I worried about my brain, of course. One of the bazillion reasons I love trapeze is because of its profound effect on keeping my anxiety and depression in check. I thought that perhaps I could gird my mental health in advance by gathering new hobbies and activities for my little break. I would have plenty of time, too – my other job at a preschool has summers off.
During my recovery, I put together 1,000 pieces of a cupcake-themed puzzle. (Thanks, Ann!) I knitted an impressive amount of dishcloths. I reorganized the cookbooks and wrote down recipes from Pinterest on recipe cards and put them in an actual recipe box. (It was ridiculous how satisfying that was.) I read about that KonMarie Method and tried folding my shirts a new way. I made some watercolor paintings. I started taking long walks around our hilly neighborhood. I read books. I enjoyed seeing all the people I love, and they took very good care of me. I tried not to feel too sorry for myself.
My 6 weeks were up. I went to the beach, one of the most glorious places in the world to me, and swam and rode my bike and felt healthy again. I couldn’t wait to get back to the trapeze studio and my students and prep for the next show! Surely everything would be back to normal!
Ha ha ha. Ha ha.
I couldn’t do a single pull-up. I couldn’t even get onto the bar without tremendous struggle. I had lost so much core strength, of course (my hernia was abdominal). It is such a disconnect when your brain knows exactly what to do and your body simply won’t budge. And it is so frustrating.
My wise friend Mel W asked me how I was doing recently at the studio. I told her fine, and she waited for the rest to pour out. She listened patiently before laying some spirituality on me.
“It’s like there’s a thicket surrounding an oasis,” she told me. “And you have to fight your way through the thicket to get there. You wouldn’t have had this experience of fighting your way through any other way. It’s an opportunity to grow.”
I’ve been carrying this image around in my mind ever since. I think you can apply it to so many things – for me, it’s certainly my return to trapeze, but it’s also my journey in getting my fiction published. In a broader sense, it’s a reminder of the struggle taking us somewhere and teaching us at the same time.
I am right in the middle of the thicket, and I’m OK with that, because I’m still moving through it toward the oasis.