My partner and I decided to spend the winter in Tucson. The Sonoran Desert is spectacular. It is the only place in the world where the Saguaro cactus grows. We are both avid bikers and hikers. Tucson has unlimited hiking opportunities and the longest paved bike path in the US. We have a comfortable home there. I was looking forward to some alone time allowing the desert to renew me. To feel its raw beauty. To hear the voice of the desert and to allow the mystery of life to wash over me. For me, there is a mystical healing quality to the desert. The joke I have with my friends is that I will run into Carlo Castaneda on one of my hikes.
Shortly after arriving, my partner asked me to paint one of the rooms in our home. I started painting, and in my need to get the job done, I fell off a step ladder. I’m lying on the floor in a state of mild shock. Not in any real pain, and being an eternal optimist, I attempted to stand. However, I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my left knee and immediately knew I had damaged something.
I called my partner, and all I felt was pissed. Like WTF. I didn’t deserve this. I was mostly angry at myself for not paying attention to what I was doing and not staying in the present moment. I went to the emergency room. I had both an MRI and an X-Ray and saw an Orthopedic surgeon. He told me I had the perfect trifecta. A ruptured ACL. A fractured tibia and a torn meniscus.
Three weeks after the accident, I had surgery to repair my meniscus. The rest of my injuries will take care of themselves. I’m walking without assistance and will start riding again in 3 days. With a lot of time on my hands recuperating, I thought about what had happened. Was this some karmic intervention? Was there some major life lesson? Was there any significance to the timing of the accident? Certainly no synchronicities. I would say none of the above. The best answer is the simplest. I just fell on my ass, or in this case, my knee, from not paying attention to what I was doing.
No one can rush the healing process. I had a lot of time to reflect on my life. I have mentioned in other blogs that I am in the last third of my life and want to live it with purpose and intention as possible. This was a good check-in for me.
Like most people, I have had my share of extremely challenging moments in my life. Both my sister and wife had passed away from cancer. I have had some significant financial challenges. I had made several decisions that could have ended in dire circumstances. A powerful lesson has always been that I am not as in control of my life as I would like to think I am.
In those moments of finding myself face down in the dirt with nowhere to go, all I was left with was the present moment. There were no answers to find. Nothing made much sense. Asking God to get me out of these situations was ultimately setting myself up for disappointment and hoping for some salvation that might or might not come. Answers, insights, clarity, and help all tend to come later. All I had to hold onto was the present moment. Pema Chodron wrote a book called “When Life Falls Apart .”Her message was that hope can only lie in the present moment.
I follow these four following Buddhist Principles. They resonate with me and help keep me focused on the present moment.
1. Abolish binary thinking
2. Stop trying to decipher everything
3. Live life the only way you truly can: presently
4. Practice Indifference
Tomorrow I am getting back on my bike. I promised my partner a short ride around our neighborhood. And I promised myself not to exceed the reach of my arms by staying in the present moment.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of life, I remain open to Grace and the gift of my life.
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