When we’re kids we think that nothing can stop us. We are essentially invincible to the perils of life and we carry that proudly on our shoulders. We can run and jump and stay up all night and then play in a basketball tournament with 5 games on a Saturday and still have the strength and energy to run around all day Sunday getting kicked in the shins on a soccer field. Unfortunately, my untouchable cloak has been lost somewhere and I’m trying to adjust to this slow recovery and accident prone reality I’m currently existing in.
I hurt my back painting. It was a slow gradual progression to a herniated disc, but still it was my paint posture that broke this camel's back. It’s hard to explain back pain if you’re never experienced it, so I won’t focus on the pain, but every simple action I took for granted on a daily basis and now no longer will.
Being able to put on anything below the belt like socks, shoes, pants, I just couldn’t do it without help.
Being able to sit.
Being able to stand.
Being able to walk (without holding onto a wall for support).
Being able to quickly move without thoroughly calculating my movements (getting out of bed felt like a chore).
Being able to laugh without crying from actual pain.
Having a shower wasn’t really an option for the first week.
Not being able to make my own food or drink copious amounts of coffee because I didn’t want to have to deal with going to the bathroom.
Having to eat while resting on my stomach.
Not being able to socialize because it involved sitting/standing/general movement.
I could not reach my cat's food to feed her and I couldn’t bend down to get her water dish.
Overall, just very dependent on others.
and I couldn’t paint.
I COULD NOT PAINT because all of my material was on the ground and I couldn’t bend to reach it.
I couldn’t paint because it required me to stand/sit/move.
I couldn’t paint because I’d need to get water and paper towels and paper and a paint palette and then I’d have to open my paints and mix them and put them on paper and then eventually clean my brushes which meant going back to the kitchen and standing there even longer hoping everything would clean themselves.
Suddenly this simple process of setting up and creating felt like torture. I went through these movements without second thought before and now suddenly it felt like a lengthy list of boxes I had to work through and check-off.
Once I accepted this as my reality until I healed, I had to prevent myself from falling into a bit of despair and self-pity. I would view this injury as a positive. I would manipulate it into something good while I rested in bed. But how? How could I hold on to that positive energy?
If I couldn’t paint then I could write, right? If I couldn’t paint, then I could plan out new ideas to work on once I was physically capable. I could read...oh so much reading.
Our bodies have limits, and sometimes our desires to push past them get the best of us. Pushing those limits can be fruitful, but there is also the risk of permanent damage if you keep pushing without properly healing.
What happens when we are physically held back from doing what we love? How do we adjust and not let our positive energy get flushed down into a negative dark tunnel.
I have to wrestle with this reality a few times a year when my body decides it can no longer sustain the wear and tear of everyday life. When I try to keep pushing, I risk irreparable damage, which ultimately puts any chances of a career at risk.
Without our health, it can sometimes feel like we have nothing. Even with a strong support system, our injuries can be isolating and inconsolable at times. Suddenly we are no longer invincible the way we felt as kids.
But do you know what does make me feel invincible?
Creating a world on paper and canvas that is authentically me.
Because as the wise Theodor Seuss Geisel once wrote:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
I wouldn’t trade my beaten body for another. I wouldn’t want to be anyone but myself.
And no one can touch that. Invincible once more.