Remember the fun of riding a bike for the first time?
Remember the excitement of being able to balance while going straight down the street or in the park? While staying upright (barely), pedaling the wheels and holding the handlebars, you looked straight ahead and felt the wind blowing in your face. Maybe your mom was holding on to the seat of your bike to help you along. Maybe she already let go. Practically holding your breath, you didn’t dare look to the side.
And then you came to the end of the path. It was time to turn the corner. You were excited. But also a bit afraid.
Turning the corner required extra skill and was a risk. You had to tilt the bike ever so carefully, while veering the handlebars to the right or left. You might fall and get hurt. You might find new territory on the other side, while going further away from home. Turning the corner was tough stuff.
The past 7 months, I’ve had a broken ankle, several surgeries, and complications. With lots of encouragement from my wonderful husband, children, family, friends and community, I’ve done pretty well.
I’ve moved forward. Sometimes backward. Sometimes staying the same. More recently, I found a great doctor who got me on the road to recovery, and on the straight path.
But I wasn’t allowed to put my foot down, or bear any weight on it. Doctor’s orders.
Today, I went to the orthopedist for a check-up after my surgery 7 weeks ago. He told me the news I’ve been hoping for. The words we were all waiting for.
“It looks great. It’s healed.”
OFF WITH THE CAST!
And…on with a simple boot that I can walk on very soon.
In one week, to be exact. That’s. Very. Soon.
I’m excited. I’m happy. But there’s another component here.
Part of me is afraid. What if I turn the front wheel too far to the right and end up plopping down? What if I make it around the corner but find that it is too scary or painful over there?
What if I find that it’s too hard to do stuff around the block, and decide to go back to my own street, up and down the same street?
But honestly, I cannot really afford to think the above thoughts, or remain gripped with fear. Such ruminations will prevent me from moving to the next step in my recovery.
All beginnings are hard, and so are transitions. Change is exciting and wonderful, but it doesn’t come without fear.
I remember looking at my injured leg before surgery 7 weeks ago, and mentioning to the anesthesiologist who was there, how utterly skinny my leg was. In comparison to my good leg, this leg was shriveled and thin. What was that about?
“Oh, that’s because you haven’t been using it for so long,” the doctor explained, referring to the many months that I’ve been without a useable leg, due to several surgeries and an infection.
His comment led me to think of the implications for life. When we don’t use certain muscles, they shrivel up, and waste away. When we refrain from turning corners toward change, we make it harder and harder to get back into things. The more we put off doing what needs to be done, the more we have a hard time doing it.
That is why I’m looking forward to taking that first step in my boot in one week from now. It may hurt, and it may be difficult. I may limp at first and I may want to stop walking and rest.
But the more I exercise my muscles of change (within reason and appropriately), the better and easier everything will be. Eventually my leg will fill up with muscles and will be more like a “regular” leg. Turning the corner takes trust, courage, and effort.
Maybe during this time of introspection during the month of Elul, before the High Holidays, each of us can figure out what is our “corner.” What place is our point of change were we go from a straight line to a right angle?
What is that point of difficulty where we have to exercise new muscles and joints to make it work in another new way before venturing into new territory? Figure out that point or joint that is your own niche for change, and then turn it. Turn that corner. It’s hard at first.
But it’s so worth it.
See you around the corner!