Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dark and the Light

Fear is such a daunting opponent, always an opportunity, but usually daunting and often immobilizing.

We are having our first snowfall of the season at long last, so many Vermonters exulting on Facebook. Two months ago, my son and I anticipated this with an enthusiastic glee I had not known since I was his age. Committed to another winter of ski instructing the Skatter Monkeys, we eagerly watched the leaves turn to fall.

My own fall, however, has changed all that and I lie on the couch this morning livid with fear and frustration, worried that age has caught up with me and will soon blur my vision further and turn my hair to grey. For weeks now, I wonder daily if my lure to lay low in my quiet apartment is truly fatigue and a healthy path of healing or the onset of depression and a serious nail on the coffin, the stress of a long life of troubles over-taking me as quickly as age.

In preparation for the winter of skiing, I was scheduled to make a run to the Mountain this morning for a meeting and required paperwork. Previously, the hour drive each way in snow—considering myself a seasoned Vermonter—would not have been a bother in the slightest, no reason to cancel. Today, however, I fret with concerns that let the deadline for departure pass. My body, I rationalize, would be uncomfortable with the extra time of driving cautiously, and if I skidded off the road, I would be helpless to get myself out.

Normally, such concerns would be easily assuaged by the enthusiasm to accomplish the deed. Rarely one to resist on account of caution, this unfamiliar territory confuses my sense of immortal purpose. From the view of my couch, for the first time in my life, those flakes outside look threatening instead of inviting me to leap and dance over them with boards attached to my feet and sticks in my hand, a concept now so alien compared to my safe, warm, grounded place at home.

Likewise, even making it to the Mountain, the thought of actually attempting an easy run on an easy slope still shudders my core even though last year I was bouncing through moguls on the steepest pitches. Corralling my little Monkeys around hot chocolate, bathroom runs, and trying to get the right gloves, scarves, helmets and goggles on the matching five year old body is an even more intimidating and exhausting image.

Yesterday I walked a mile in my own shoes along a path beside the Lake and today my injury is sensitively inflamed. The doctor says I can ski even with these tubes still in me; mental health yearns to try, but the body resists, not with a decisive jolt of agony, but a subtle flush of discomfort that keeps me off balance.

Regularly, I relive that blind rush of noise that changed my life as the ladder slipped out underneath me last October. I hear the sharp crash of hitting the pavement ten feet below. I can feel the slow-motion confusion as my senses re-oriented to people standing over me, concerned, but completely unsure of how to help. Then too, my fear is fueled by that moment of collision three weeks earlier in a soccer game that resulted in my first stitches in 20 years.

Having been so adventurous and physically capable throughout my life and so rarely injured to any extent, fear now wraps around my desire, choking off the will to move forward. The “what-ifs” are closer to “what could be” and risk outplays results: I remain at home idle and wondering.


Last night I awoke in emotional discomfort and witnessed fear descend like a vulture and envelope me in the darkness, preventing my return to sleep. Unable to work, I would be homeless without my father’s help. Concerned that his help over so many years has played a part in my lack of financial success, still reliant, I fear I will never stand on my own. This injury to the very symbol of manhood seems a cruel representation of the truth about my life. I think I should just get off my butt and find a job, as my father admonishes, "...any job."

Looking for the brighter side, I muse, turning over and trying to breathe out the fast-pulsing fear, given the opportunity to break forever from construction and pursue creativity, I stay awake in the fearful dark, counting words and worrying I have not written enough, hardly taken advantage of this time now afforded. With this chance, I should be scribbling every hour. Not doing so, I fear, invites worse calamities to befall my sorry soul.

In the grey light of dawn, the snow falls like a comforting blanket. I know it is unwise to push too hard like I may have done before. Though I may feel like conquering the world in this moment, I must respect that this trauma was severe and it will still be a week before we have evidence of how much has healed and the first tube might be pulled out (oh, joy!!!). The doctor’s permission cannot overcome the reality that after a mile, my own body is weary and uncomfortable.

Fear exerts its pressure, but the day and the night, the dark and the light must be negotiated step by patient step, always returning to balance.

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1 comment:

Carol said...

I'm sorry that you're feeling troubled at the moment Kip, I do hope that mentally things begin to improve for you as your body heals.