Thursday, October 29, 2009

Broken Armor

This accident was no accident.

The morning began with the composition of an essay about my father, the first written step towards admitting all was not as safe and secure in my childhood as the legend describes. When the writing reached a culmination of intensity, I stepped to the piano and caressed the form of a song out of my head, a shimmer of joy grown a little more solid.

All morning the need to go to work plagued my creative energy. I have struggled recently to regain the self-discipline needed to strap on the nailbelt to pay the bills. This burst of creativity threatened to keep me off the roof and away from the money I needed on Monday.

Finishing the high places, I wore an OSHA approved safety harness, but after a pleasant lunch on a stack of shingles under the crisp fall sunshine, thinking about my new song, I set up a low scaffold like so many times in thirty years. Now just 10 feet off the driveway, comfortable on my plank supported by jacks at the two ladders, I began to dismantle the higher scaffold.

As I pushed on a doubled 2x6, the ladder leg slipped out, the world went dizzy and for the first time in all these years, I came crashing down. I hit hard, I have no idea how, rolled and came to a stop facing the heavenly sky which was soon filled with the anxious faces of the neighbors I had greeted only a few minutes earlier.

Setting aside all the drama, I had surgery to repair my ruptured urethra, a chipped bone in my wrist and a puncture in my thigh that looked like a bullet hole. For the first time in my life, I have out done my father with not just one, but two catheters draining out of my body. After nearly two weeks, just walking across the room a few times is an effort that exhausts me.

Fortunately, I am in little pain. There has been a delirious giving over to helplessness and some great friends have rallied with physical and emotional support. Where I have insisted on self-reliance, I have to ask someone to wash my hair and take out the garbage. Where I have looked to others for love and approval, in the long, long hours I am alone on my couch, day and night, despite phone and facebook, I have only myself.

Not wanting to be on that roof, is it any surprise I would fall off? So caught between this urge to be creative and the need to make a constructive income, the accident deprives me of both for a long enough time to contemplate and evaluate. Just as I discovered taboos in my upbringing may have impaired my sexuality and I gain interest to explore a new way of being, my groin is injured so severely even the doctors grimaced with pain, and now I have tubes to remind me that this is a very utilitarian organ.

At the deepest level, in my men’s group we have been looking at the man, the “Kool Kat”, who faces with a stoic smile bankruptcy, divorce, IRS debt and a sub-prime mortgage forcing the sale of his home. This man grew out of the little boy who came from such rich, legendary blood and was expected to do so much. Determined to rise up to those expectations, I have spent my life taking on unrealistic challenges and continually falling short, rising again and creating a certain emotional numbness in the face of so much misfortune.

It must take something huge, we decided in group, to break through my cloak of indomitable optimism, tear open my kool kat armor. This accident broke more barriers than bones and organs. I am lucky to be alive, with so much time and nowhere to go but deep inside.

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Hayden Tompkins said...

"ruptured urethra"

Oh my GOD, Kip! That heart...I'm glad you have support behind you but PLEASE don't subconsciously sabotage yourself!


Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you Kip. Hang in there. You were doing so well. I love your music and writing keep at it.

Let us know how you are doing.


Laurie said...

Interesting that at the time you decide to peel off you cool cat armor, you injure yourself forcing you to be alone, unable to do much but ponder who is under that armor. Take notes on what you discover. This may be a blessing in disguise.

Heal fast (both your body and your spirits)
God Bless.