I actually feared a mishap when forced to undertake a challenging trek in Hawaii. The surprise was that it happened in a careless moment at home. It was a busy Friday morning. I had much to wrap up before travelling out on the weekend. In a preoccupied moment, I lost my footing on the stairs, took a tumble and toss. I discerned a crack of what felt like bone and the shoot of excruciating pain from an injured limb. I was alone at home; my cellphone wasn’t with me when I fell. My mind is still a blank as I try to reconstruct the agonizing journey from the foot of the stairs to the other end of a large room to reach the telephone and summon help. I would discover I had suffered a fracture in my right ankle.
It was some consolation it happened on homeground where help and support were easily forthcoming. It might instead have happened during my planned travel the following week, where I would be by myself, with vastly complex logistics.
The unexpected also offers opportunities for learning, development and overall experience. I resolved to continue as normally as possible with all activities that did not require mobility; there are no limits to output of the creative and intellectual kind. Re-discovering mobility was creative in itself. My last acquaintance with hopscotch was in school. With the support of a walker, I turned into a dexterous hopper, albeit on my weaker left foot. A wheeled office chair enabled maneuvers within one level of home. Indeed one discovered new ways of doing things on multiple fronts, and learning to trust and delegate the rest to others.
Minimalism took on a true meaning- separated from my usual living quarters on an upper floor, a few essentials sufficed for camping in a lower floor guest bedroom. One discovered what might have remained totally outside awareness- like the design flaws and systemic deficits of toilets for the disabled in public places. In many ways, I was gifted the unhurried time to devote attention to things that might escape the usual rush. Simple fitness, the use of all one’s limbs and faculties takes on a whole new dimension of gratitude.
Expanded wisdom also happens from enhanced appreciation of others. Concern and consideration received both from one’s personal circle and the public offers its own healing balm. I was apprehensive about an overseas trip to be accomplished. I had to be part of an important family event, and thereafter take in my share of sights and sounds. Far from suffering inconvenience, personal comfort was elevated to an entirely new level. Being in a wheelchair at international airports cut short a great many time consuming travel formalities not only for me but my accompanying family. The interface that happened with the personnel who wheeled me around was interesting; I am grateful to those who went out of their way to ensure my comfort. Finding me lean on a crutch as we waited in queue for a taxi in Rome, it was heartwarming to be tapped on the shoulder for quicker access to transport. A few days ago, in a resort closer to home, we were gratuitously allotted a cottage with the best view in the property because its location suited my mobility constraints.
Our circumstances are what we make of them. Equanimity is the key to dealing with situations. A broken bone should not rob one of a smile; being stuck with oneself need not reduce one’s involvement with the world.