Friday, February 24, 2012

Playing hooky

Yesterday I didn't ride. Today neither.

Today's reason was an appointment with Dr. Friedman. It doesn't go very well if I ride there and back. My body gets confused - do I want it to heal and regenerate, or do I want it to transport me somewhere? And Dr. Friedman tends to frown when I show up in bike clothes. He thinks biking is causing the problem with my back.

Yesterday's reason was I was just severely missing the whole Death Valley experience, especially the people. Mike and Scott from Colorado, Chuck from Morgan Hill, Walt and Barry and Roger from Davis, Doug and Chris from Oregon. Bill the organizer and Mimi our cook. The transition back to suburbia and solitude was not totally smooth. But it was an opportunity to think about a lot of things.

During the accident the front part of my head hit the seat in front of me, the headrest. The spot on the bridge of my nose is still sore and might be stuck that way. But that's just a physical spot. I have to press on it to make it hurt.


After the impact, the front of my brain probably hit against the inside of my skull. Then the back of my brain probably hit against the back of my skull, and so on. Like water sloshing in a bathtub. I'm not really into morbid discussions for their own sake. It does seem to matter, though, where your brain is injured. I was looking at this brain map yesterday and revisiting symptoms.

One thing that's stored in the frontal lobes is the sense of self. In all of the noise and chaos  following the accident, there have been times when I could grab onto a familiar pattern and keep repeating it until it was learned again, mine again. That was reassuring. There are also times like this week where reality seems a little too, well, flexible.

Lots of things are the same, for better or worse. Impatience and stubbornness. Tendency to judge people harshly. Love for animals and nature. Generosity, to a fault. I can still solve problems. Learn a language. Soak up art.

The differences are subtle. Like, I can't always remember what my values are or why they are there. Can't tell a cohesive narrative from childhood to here and now. It's like those things happened to a different person. And as a result, I can't see clearly what the next step might be.

On the one hand, it's given me lots of perspective on the people in my life, on my past, that was missing before. I no longer have visceral reactions when I think about painful experiences. Those memories are more like stories, or scenes from screenplays. I've read them but they were written by someone else. That sense of distance has been really helpful.

On the other hand, it's scary not being grounded in the past. Like being a teenager again.

It's a second chance to chart my course. Last week we looked up at the Milky Way almost every night. Looked through binoculars so you could see countless points of light way out there. I still love gazing at the stars. Camping and hiking and being outside. The desert. Socializing with people.

Having found all that again, it was hard to release it. Hopefully it won't fade away -

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