Crutchable Life Lessons

Yesterday marked exactly one week on crutches, with at least five more to go (only two more weeks in my cast, though). Writing those words felt like a joke. It’s felt like a month since I broke my foot two Fridays ago. For someone with a regular yoga practice, this has been hellish. But in a short calendar time, I’ve made some realizations and accepted some truths about myself and others. Obvious though they may seem, I’ve never felt the weight of these truths until now:

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  1. People say stupid things… Socializing is a weird animal. A lot of speaking happens without thinking, primarily about the way those thoughts affect others. I am all for speaking truth, but there are ways to deliver truths with consideration for the famous quote, “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” In a week, I’ve been told that I obviously took my foot for granted. I’ve been condescendingly taught how to use my crutches “correctly” by a stranger. I’ve been told I need to take more calcium in my diet. Self-proclaimed doctors have told me my injury will never truly heal. Someone looked at me and said, “THAT SUCKS” before walking away. Really, people?
  2. but they mostly mean well. As good as it feels to air my complaints about the stupid comments I’ve endured, I begrudgingly accept that most of the time, the stupid comments are poorly-masked good intentions. Besides, these ignorant comments pale in comparison to the racial or misogynistic slurs many experience. Most of the time, people don’t mean to hurt or maim (unless they do, in which case, hit them). This is an important part of accepting others as they are–and in turn, accepting yourself.
  3. Life really is about simplicity. A good shower. A walk through the park. Cooking an intricate meal. A book you can’t put down. Small victories. I don’t care if I’m getting written up by the cliche police. It’s not until you spend your nights dreaming about putting on two shoes and running a marathon that you appreciate the little things.
  4. We take things for granted. In that vein, I will wholeheartedly admit that I have taken many things in my life for granted. It seems dramatic or silly to make such a big deal out of a fractured metatarsal, as if one broken bone bestows a sky of clarity, but things change when something as simple as getting your groceries becomes a bad Tom Cruise movie.
  5. We complain–A LOT. Again, I count myself among these. Fellow complainers, I see you. I see you complaining about your day-old pizza’s lack of crunchiness. I see you complaining about being too busy. I see you complaining about traffic. I see you complaining about your healthy peanut butter that’s too messy. I see you. I see me, and the grades of problems below and above mine, and I am suddenly humbled into hushing any complaints that may escape my mouth. A cast sucks. There are things that suck less, and there are things that suck more.
  6. Focus on the things that don’t suck. If a lot of things suck, then by pure logic, some things don’t suck. Let’s focus on those instead. For example, I count my lucky stars that it’s currently summer. Summer means I can wear skirts and dresses over my cast; that my exposed toes aren’t in danger of frostbite; that the weather outside isn’t frightful (crutches and ice? NO). I am happy that I have nine amazing roommates who are willing to help me whenever I need. I am lucky that my injury wasn’t worse. I am also fortunate that my full-time job allows me to sit in a chair most of the day (I never thought I’d feel lucky for that). ALSO, I GOT TO PICK THE COLOR OF MY CAST.
  7. I stopped feeling pity for people with disabilities. This is a tough one. This is a really, really tricky one. Whenever I’ve seen someone in a wheelchair, or on crutches, with injuries or permanent physical disabilities, my immediate reaction is sympathy (a mental disability is a whole other ballgame because it is not usually something a total stranger might pick up on or feel the misplaced right to comment on). But then I realized, this is one of the hardest parts about living with a disability (in my fortunate case, a temporary one). It’s hard enough to have to ask people for help with things, let alone feel like everyone is staring at you with sympathy as you hobble down the street. The last thing anyone wants is to feel incapable or less than. They are out in the world, existing, going about their daily lives to the best of their ability. They will ask for help if they need it. Yes, they may feel frustration about their circumstance. Yes, they may want to bitch about it sometimes. The best thing to do is listen, and treat them normally–because they are a normal person. But hey, opening the damn door is never a bad idea.
  8. Slow down. Like most of my technologically-addicted generation, I am fast. I think fast, I do fast, I live fast. If it weren’t for yoga, I would be unbearable to myself. Consequentially, relying on one leg has forced me to slooooooow doooooown. I’ve turned to my yoga for some off-the-mat practice, the kind where you BREATHE instead of yelling when you finally sit down and realize you left your phone charger upstairs. In short, my life has become a living meditation. I am impelled each day to find the stillness in the most menial of actions, like pouring myself a bowl of cereal. I am reaching for kindness instead of frustration with those around me. I am melting into acceptance of this short period in my life as a fertile time for self-discovery and abiding strength.
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