(I am going to try this thing where I don't post any photos with my words. Like it? Don't like it? Comment below (please!) and let me know so I can improve my posts in the future. Thanks!)
So. What have I been doing, other than thinking about what I might be doing next (after skiing)?
I normally move my body in many ways, including, but not limited to: up and down mountains, through woods and between countries, up cliff faces, up trees, across suspended lines and through ocean waters, lifting heavy objects and putting them back down, jumping on boxes and jumping off bridges. Not being able to do these movements has been emotionally disabling. Well, that, and the pain. But now that the pain has mostly subsided, I want to be free of the weight that is unfulfilling idleness.
Before I got injured, I began reading this book called Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She talks about the creative process and how to reach your potential. The book's motto is 'Creative Living Beyond Fear.' (more on that throughout this post....)
Things have been confusing and dark for me, as of late. Figuring out how to satisfy my deep, internal craving is not as easy without a physical outlet. Is that why I am pushing through this injury? To return to something that quiets the internal hungry beast? I'm not sure. I love skiing, and that's my reason. For now. I want to see where else it can take me. And if it just so happens that it's time for the next pursuit? So be it. But I'm not quite ready to be done trying. Gilbert, in Big Magic, says, "Whatever it is you are pursuing, whatever it is you are seeking, whatever it is you are creating, be careful not to quit too soon...'don't rush through the experiences and circumstances that have the most capacity to transform you.'
Don't let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding.
Because that moment?
That's the moment when interesting begins."
...When I think about it like that, my current situation transforms from being confusing and dark to being interesting.
There is so much to be learned, so much to be gained from every difficulty and challenge. It is truly incredible how I can go from this perspective to one of disabling fear and doubt -- back and forth, back and forth. Through the weeks, days, hours and moments. Sometimes I wonder, 'am I doing this right?' Am I doing everything I can to ensure that when I get back on my skis, succeed or fail, I have no regrets?
I'm not sure. I go back and forth about this, too, among many other things. I spend, on average, 5-6 hours a day working on my knee, my body. I also go out to dinner, go out with friends, forego the icing and rest to make connections and have some wine. Should I be fully focused, 100% committed to rehabbing my knee? Say no to social invitations and give up drinking, only eat at home and surrender the extracurricular activities?
Since I became capable of leaving my house with no pain I have been so much happier. Even a trip to the grocery store was thrilling at first (I still cherish these!). The first time I went out to eat, my knee became so hot and swollen that I had to go home after 45 minutes of being upright. But it was glorious. To smell the baking in the pizza oven (Jackson's Corner!), to see new faces, to sit on someone else's bench was even tactually blissful. I was out in the world again, and I could feel the life and creativity stirring within me.
So I started doing more things for myself, regardless of the discomfort some of them caused. I sat down at my piano. I picked up my guitar, my colored pencils. I meditated, I wrote, I collaged, I did homework and created things that were actually fulfilling. I colored, I socialized, I cooked and blogged and took photos. And, again, I was addicted. Yet again, there was so much to do, and, again, I had to start making choices.
Skiing, right now, is my top priority. Beneath that time-exhaustive, mentally-draining, all-consuming endeavor lies a whole boat-load of my other interests and fascinations on a long list. Although I am spending a lot more time than I thought I'd be on recovering from this injury, I'm left with a little spare time (or, am I creating it...?) to play and pursue other activities. For my class titled, "Exploring Design Careers," I was assigned to approach a personal problem from a design-thinking perspective. So I wrote down a list of things I love to do for myself (personal pursuits, if you will) and chose to not try to do them all, all the time. Instead, I opted for two activities per day -- for instance: ten minutes of drawing, journaling, playing guitar -- and was decidedly fulfilled by those two simple things. Sounds easy, right? Well, actually, it kind of was, and still is.
The weight is lifted ever-so-slightly from my chest, knowing that every day I fulfill the requirement of doing two things for myself every day. And, I actually do them! Instead of being overwhelmed by too many options and hence incapable of actually doing anything meaningful for fear of being incomplete, I just choose from my list. You have to laugh at the straight-forward simplicity of this tactic...how did I not figure this out earlier? I am, after-all, an avid list-maker.
All is not solved, however. I still worry about my knee. I still procrastinate homework until Sundays, when my weekly assignments are due. Some days I forget, or simply neglect, to meditate. I worry that I'm not doing rehab perfectly, that I'm walking too much or eating the wrong foods. I'm attempting to eat an anti-inflammatory diet: no gluten, no dairy, no potatoes, no fried food, no processed sugars....the list goes on. I am not incredibly strict about it, and I try to forgive myself for occasionally eating potato chips or Gouda cheese.
But I am still hard on myself. I am a perfectionist, and I'm not that proud of it. I pay scrupulous attention to detail, and I can't function on too little sleep, or when I'm surrounded by clutter and disorganization. I want to do everything, and do it all very well. This is impossible -- of that I am aware -- but the drive, the undying curiosity is in my blood. Sometimes I wish I could relax: sleep in, daydream, watch a movie without having to knit. But I'm also indebted to and thankful for my hunger. I need to be aware of my ego and my need for approval and reward, but my curiosity teaches me so many invaluable lessons. It shows me so many beautiful, unforgettable things: mountaintop views, the power of the ocean, new languages and new perspectives.
Right now I am learning about how to make a decent living as an artist, how to be a better listener (forever a work in progress), how to make gluten-free, sugar-free (delicious!) pancakes. I'm learning about sustainable design, Oregon's indigenous flowers, how important it is for me to read and write, how to improve my online personal brand.
This strive to be perfectly multi-faceted drives me insane yet holds me together. It will inevitably continue when I retire from ski-racing...although I may say it, I don't really think things will slow down. And I'm okay with that. As long as I'm living with intention and creativity, I will forever be happily unsatisfied. Inspired. Dreaming. Pushing. Creating. I can't sit at home and ice and do glute-exercises all day. Because I want so much more.
Elizabeth Gilbert put it nicely when she said, "If you can't do what you long to do, go do something else.
Go walk the dog, go pick up every piece of trash on the street outside your home, go walk the dog again, go bake a peach cobbler, go paint some pebbles with brightly colored nail polish and put them in a pile. You might think it's procrastination, but -- with the right intention -- it isn't; it's motion. And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.
So wave your arms around. Make something Do something. Do anything.
Call attention to yourself with some sort of creative action, and -- most of all -- trust that if you make enough of a glorious commotion, eventually inspiration will find its way home to you again."
adventures to and from, here and there, home and away, around the world--through my eyes, lens, and mind