Saturday, November 7, 2009

Distant Shores

The doctor made a quick assessment of the repair and subsequent healing, determining nothing for sure, but satisfied there was progression. He pressed hard on a particular spot to ensure last week’s infection was truly gone. Continuing to improve at this rate, he surmised, the first catheter might be removed in two weeks.

To my complaint that sleep erections have returned and are quite painful with that tube stuck in me, he replied, “Congratulations!” An injury like this can destroy nerve tissue and render impotence, a prospect I had not imagined, but was in the minds apparently of many family and friends.

“You should be back to work in a couple of weeks,” he predicted.

This should be wonderful news, a relief, but it fills me with terror.

If I was happy in my work, or could just show up Monday morning with my tools and be set on a task, perhaps I would be eager, ready at least. Instead, I have to find work, hunt down a job, and most likely it will be of a completely different sort.

The roof from which I fell has been finished by the owner’s son and they, in fact, want money back, having gained the perception in my absence I had not been focused enough even before the fall. The few other jobs I had lined up I had to pass on to others, needing to be done. The only one left is a few squares of shingles on another roof and I am afraid this time it might kill me.

All of these years, I have been building additions with the heart and purpose of a man determined to provide for my family. Although I have an impressive portfolio of finished projects, there is also a trail of wreckage behind me, countless bad debts, broken contracts and failed promises, having taken too much on and operating usually on an empty bank account.

This has always been about practicality and never about true purpose. My soul has not been invested and it has shown up regularly in the struggle to stay afloat. The Universe has delivered warnings through hardship, and then, not getting it, forced bankruptcy. Still, I was determined to overcome the obstacles. When the engine of my truck was blown, I got the message and celebrated the burned bridge with a year of the writing and music I have always longed to explore.

Impoverished and confused, however, I returned once again to the trade that has always put food on the table. Just getting comfortable with that choice and enjoying the positive balance in my bank account, the scaffold collapses under me and I come crashing down.

At fifty-five and in the middle of a recession, this is not a good time to embrace such a radical change. Practicality dictates that I collect my tools and get back to work, but my terror spreads through my thoughts as rapidly as the flames in my dream last night burning down my home and consuming a lifetime of possessions.

Carpentry is the known quantity, the simple solution of one nail after another, following a sheet of instructions, a blueprint that shows me with every board placed here I can have food, clothing and shelter there. Even in recession, people need their home repaired, their walls painted a new color of hope.

Turning way from that certainty is the most frightening step ever taken. In panic, I keep running back. This accident has stopped me cold, dumped me on the couch, aching, exhausted and numb. For three long weeks, I have contemplated the plastic tubes coming out of my body, religiously emptied the bags of waste and wondered at the guiding force sending its message with such clarity and mystery.

I am terrified because the only real clarity seems to be not to do what I have always known. The time has come to embrace true purpose, but what comes to heart—creativity through writing and music—secures precious few pennies on my plate. A castaway desperate to get home, I must leave my island on a rickety raft, likely to sink, but determined to float, yearning for what might lie beyond the horizon.

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Anonymous said...

Wow, I've just read about through the posts Kip, I hadn't realised you'd had an accident. I do hope that you're well recovered soon.

Laurie said...

The fork in the road.....that seems to be where you are. It is difficult to know which way to go or even where the roads lead. Pray Kip. Pray and trust God for his guidance. There is so much to learn on the journey. Maybe that is what you need to be focused on.