My hamstring flared up during yoga the other night. Again.
I was moving from one-legged Tadasana to Warrior 3 when the sirens sounded.
ABORT! ABORT! THIS THING’S ABOUT TO BLOW!
I scrambled over to the wall, shaking my leg furiously, come on come on don’t do this, please. I waited for the alarms to quiet. I hobbled back to my mat, rolled down onto my back and…I…started to cry.
It surprised me. The immediate crisis had been averted, I was out of danger, and most of all, this was nothing new.
But see, that’s just it.
I hurt my leg in October of 2013. (Running, if you must know)
In the years since, I have seen doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors. The doctors tell me the MRI shows nothing out of the ordinary. The physical therapist has me doing dinky little exercises with a theraband. Kevin the chiropractor wore Hawaiian shirts that somehow did not instill confidence.
The pain no longer keeps me up at night, hasn’t for a while, but still — it’s a dull ache, a constant impediment that I have carried for 1,155 days.
I think of a conversation a married friend recently recounted. She’d been at a wedding, chatting with some single girls who were watching forlornly from the edge of the dance floor. She’d tried to console them, saying that while marriage was great, it would also bring new problems (truth).
“We know,” they’d said. “But we’re so tired of this problem.”
I think of Pete, from my old writing group, there trying to make sense of his wife’s death. She’d been a hippie, devout in the teachings of Eastern religion, while he was a neuroscientist. When asked about the concept of heaven, he’d furrowed his brow and said, “I should think an eternity of anything would be miserable.”
I wonder if it’s more the eternity than the anything that constitutes our misery.
It’s the reason I don’t listen to the radio. It’s the reason people don’t like their jobs, the reason marriages fall apart, the reason I can’t eat a Subway sandwich post college.
It’s the repetition, the monotone of the child practicing the same piano piece over and over that really drives us mad.
And yet what do we do? What do we do about the nagging weaknesses we don’t choose and can’t change?
I cannot break up with my leg. I can’t buy a new one. My last doctor thought there was a possibility my hamstring was detached. He said this with great worry, suggesting that we might have to do surgery.
“Great!” I’d said. “Surgery!”
Something, anything new!
I’ve mulled it over in the days since my breakdown, wondering what the answer is. And the word that keeps pinging my conscious is grace.
Grace, that pesky word. Since I’ve opened my eyes to it, it won’t leave me alone.
I don’t want it to be grace. I want it to be a quick fix, some magic elixir I find on the internet — a pill, an essential oil, some form of the acai berry — I would pay anything.
I don’t want it to be grace, because grace (among many things) means acceptance.
It means living around an injury I may not be able to heal. It means holding back when my ego wants to push further. Most importantly, grace eschews the very idea of achievement in favor of experience.
I have learned that grace can heal many hurts, but I think it specializes in the repeat injury. Because the repeat injury has the added pain of saying this hurts, still. You’re struggling with this, again?
And grace simply says yes and goes along with its day. No judgment, no fixation, no spiraling out of control. Find comfort in the discomfort. Give effort, then let go of the result.
**I find it worth noting that the friend who has gotten me all excited about grace, Jill, has much prettier things to say about it than I do, and on the same day, no less. Read her words here.