October 4, 2011
So, here I am, one week post-op, still exhausted, still not myself, still not able to carry on many of the ordinary routines of daily life that I value more than anything.
And why should I not be all these things? Like so many people, post-op, I’m anemic. It’ll take some time for that to right itself. I’m doing all the right things: taking iron, making sure I rest, drinking water – all the suggestions my surgeon made. But it will resolve when it will.
Which will bring me eventually to writing. This morning I found myself enraged that I wasn’t progressing faster than I am. Why? Why this non-acceptance? Why this desire to heal faster than humanly possible?
We live in a culture that promises fast this, instant that. Are you sick? Take this drug, and in minutes, you’ll be out playing catch with your son. Do you have allergies? Take this drug, and in minutes you’ll be romping on a beach with your grandkids. Instant messaging. Instant communication. And all of that has lead us – has lead me at least – to get very angry, very impatient, when things take as long as they take.
Somewhere tucked in the back of my brain is the false notion that if I do everything right, if I will things to change, if I apply myself, I can change just about anything. Quickly. Of course, this isn’t true. Though right now I’d like it to be.
If an act of will could achieve miracles, I’d be fine now. But I’m not. I’m still healing. If an act of will could transform ideas into finished works of art, there would be a hell of a lot more art out there than there is now.
It isn’t that will isn’t important. Of course it is. We must want something very much in order to spend the amount of time it takes to write a book. But will isn’t the whole story. Sometimes we have to wait a long time for a good idea to transform itself into a great idea. Sometimes, no matter how hard we work, we have to give up control over our work; we have to step back; we have to realize that the book will take longer than we want it to take.
“A good completion takes a long time.” That’s something I learned when I was studying non-Western thought in graduate school. I never forgot it, though I sometimes act as if I have.
And so, here I am, one week post-op, expecting miracles and getting only reality. The reality of not feeling terrific; the reality of work deferred, postponed; the reality of the body taking its time to heal.
When I get back to my projects, I hope I remember that will can only take me so far. That work takes the time it takes.
Meantime, I can make good use of this healing time. I can let myself watch funny movies. I can let myself rest. I can let myself dream. I can let myself notice the sun moving behind a cloud. But I can only do this if I acknowledge that I can only control my healing to a certain point. Beyond that, there’s the body’s wisdom. And over that, I have no control.