Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ouch! Damn that hurt!

The human hand has much to say.

For most of yesterday I felt slightly ‘off’; wobbly, both physically and mentally.  As I prepared to leave for a doctor’s appointment I managed to smash the index and middle fingertips of my left hand. I did a good job. “A” for effort…meaning the effort I exerted on the door. Lucky for me a friend was nearby and took me to get some ice. As the universe would have it, a nurse happened to walk by. She took a look and told me to ice it and elevate it right away, for at least the next hour. “You want to limit the bleeding under the fingernail, and then hopefully you won’t lose that nail,” she explained. 

These two gifts from God or the Universe, as you see fit, found me a chair to sit in. They said the squished fingers can cause dizziness.  In hindsight perhaps they wanted me to stop pacing back and forth, clutching my fingers with a wide-eyed stare and saying “Damn!” repeatedly. My friend rigged up a to-go cup and bag of ice (I know she is a good mama because she worked fast and made a plastic bag…I want to be with her if there’s a zombie apocalypse!) My kind nurse explained about the throbbing pain I was likely to experience later and gave a firm reminder to elevate, and a gentle, reassuring pat on my knee.

I gingerly settled into the driver’s seat for the 40 mile drive. “How fortunate that I am already on my way to see a doctor!” I thought.  Most of the drive was highway and I steered with my right hand while I alternated between ice and elevation for the left hand. It was really starting to hurt and I worried about my fingernail. All I could think of was that creepy feeling when you cut a fingernail too short.  The previously protected flesh feels so tender, sensitive, and raw. Ugh. I hate that feeling.

The doctor declared that my fingertips would survive. I believe she was impressed by the cold, waxy appearance of my fingers. At least that is how I choose to interpret, “You really did ice them didn’t you?” By the time I left it was dark and rainy, which means this middle-aged driver will do exactly the speed limit and stay in the right hand lane. Let those youngsters with better eyes and reflexes pass me by!  

My middle finger was starting to throb so I propped my elbow on the door handle. I was out of ice but I could at least try to elevate.  My hand happened to lean against the window and Aaaaaaah! The cold glass felt so good against my fingernail. Almost like ice. I found a comfortable angle to prop my arm and pressed my middle fingernail gently against the glass. The other fingers just sort of relaxed and dropped down toward my palm. Are you visualizing it?  It looked like this...

 Yep. That was the view for every driver that passed on my left. And there were plenty. I happened to glance over after ten minutes. “Good grief Judy! Really?” I chastised myself as I quickly jerked my hand back.  After a few minutes my finger missed the cold glass.  I reached up to just sort of touch the glass with my fingertips, as though saying goodbye. Aaaaaaaah!  This also felt good! I found a comfortable position and eased on down the road. A song or two played on the radio and once again I happened to glance at my hand. Oh. 
What a different message it conveyed.  It looked like this...

A plea for help, a sorrowful goodbye, or simply reaching out in love? I spend a lot of time trying to understand the human condition and myself. 
These truths I hold to be self-evident, that all of humanity is given the gift of emotions, but not all of humanity is comfortable with all possible emotions. Often problematic are anger, sorrow and love.  I have written before in Delicate. Like a Flower. that I absorb much. Feel much. It can be overwhelming.  My recourse is to retreat back into my castle and pull up the drawbridge. I may be firing arrows as I go. I do not want to leave any weak spots vulnerable; I do not want to feel exposed or raw, the emotional equivalent of a wounded fingertip.  

I am not alone in my discomfort with vulnerability; with the pain of fear, sorrow or grief. Some of us, when our heart is crushed rather than our fingertips, respond with anger instead of sitting with the pain.  But what does the angry response or gesture result in? How is the rest of humanity supposed to react to this? Does it ease your pain?

What if we risk feeling vulnerable? What if we reach out…to ask for help or to say goodbye lovingly? To acknowledge that fear and sorrow are human, and humans are not meant to live alone behind their castle walls. What if we reach out with love and kindness for others and ourselves? Recognize that the antidote to emotional pain is love, not anger.  How might the rest of humanity react to this gesture? 

Today, as I type with eight fingers, I am thankful for the less than gentle way that the universe sent me this message. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and a place for both gestures. Anger is a legitimate emotion; just make sure it isn’t masking something else. As I work to maintain a gesture of reaching out with love, I will try to step outside my castle walls. Eventually I hope to maintain this gesture in the face of fear and sorrow, even across the drawbridge.

Special thanks to my teenager for standing in the rain to take photos as I tried to re-create the view that other drivers had.

1 comment:

  1. Another delightfully insightful post, with equal moments of depth and humor! Just brilliant, keep 'em coming!