30 December 2011

So THIS is what I have

Sciatica is the name, and I was not sure until I started having radiating pain to my foot. Remember how I mentioned a back ache? Well, that is gone now, but before that I had a groin pull and now I think the result of that groin pain was sciatica. You can find out about it from the folks at Mayo. Go to Sciatica - MayoClinic.com

The good news is that I can do most everything. The bad news is that pain killers are little help. About the only time I have no pain at all is lying down. Having been a gym rat for so many years, a modicum of daily pain is normal for me. What I dislike is that it takes a moment or two in the morning (or after extended sitting) to get going again.

Of course, it did not help that I decided to jog a lap or two on Tuesday. Because I slightly favor my right side (where the pain is) I landed poorly on my left foot and felt a jolt to the Achilles tendon. That means I hobble on both legs in early the morning. What a picture that is, I can assure you. Walter Brennan had nothing on me. (He had a distinct walk associated with his grampa McCoy character, in case you don’t get the reference.)

I read that unless the pain is debilitating it will likely go away over time. I have endured sore elbows and strained rotator cuffs before, so this is not news. But it is annoying, so if you have any suggestions about how to hasten my healing let me know.

Yoga? Massage? Acupuncture? All three? If this takes a while one or more could be in my future.

What really nags at me, though, is wondering what I injure next. Wanna start a pool?

24 December 2011

A Precious Sadness

At long last, Christmas Eve is a day of calm (even if the evening is full of work).  Our children are grown, so the mystery play of Santa is no longer necessary.  Our material needs and wants are few, so the task of buying and wrapping is smaller.  As the morning moves toward noon I have an island of serenity that allows me to write this. 

So why am I sad?  Not heaving sorrow, mind you, but a sort of bruised tenderness.  Maybe it was catching a movie on cable TV by accident early this morning, “October Sky,” which was ok enough as a story.  The plot and theme are commonplaces now among ‘inspiring movies.’  What might have stayed with me, though, was the setting, West Virginia. 

At various times I have traveled through that place.  Each time I felt a profound sadness amid the stirring beauty of the land.  Nothing quite explains it, but there are notes of resignation and regret in it, caught in the aroma of decaying trees and coal.  Something about the hardscrabble landscape tears right through my eyes and into my heart, a reality that gets covered over by civilization and its false contents.  To be that real, that true, even if it hurts, feels right to me. 

This sort of sadness, born of my visits there and to other portions of the Appalachian hills, is precious.  I do not want it to go away.  Most of the time we want to get rid of sadness, but this kind is precious, somehow to be treasured.

My Facebook page this morning is dotted with people wanting and feeling that magical Christmas sensation, perhaps as a way to connect with a remembered childhood time when the world shimmered with a kind of intensity that tarnishes to dull predictability as we age.  For me, though, the usual Christmas magic feels more false than real.  Angels and shepherds and stars and flying sleighs obscure the shimmer of the world as it truly is. 

Give me young women with rough hands and old men with sparkling eyes, the terrible swift beauty of mountain streams and the smell of pine and hickory smoke.  Keep your angelic choirs and let me hear the sound of the baby cry and the song of the mother soothing it.  Is this not magic, that in a world so hard we still believe life is worth it? 

I crave the broken hearted tenderness that old hills and tired houses and worn lives call up, the sort of world my ancestors knew, the sort of world Galilean peasants two thousand years long ago lived in and through. 

15 December 2011

Worker-Owners of America, Unite! - NYTimes.com

Hmmm, I sorta like this.  I sorta like this a lot.  Will comment later, but thought you oughta see it now. 

Worker-Owners of America, Unite! - NYTimes.com

11 December 2011

Oh, My Aching Back

That's right, I have a backache. Started with a weird twinge yesterday as I bent slightly down, very slightly, to fetch something from the seat of a chair in the hall. The sensation was odd, definitely distressing. And ever since I have had a pain along my upper right pelvis in the back. It's not unbearable, but it is annoying and does cause me to rise and sit more carefully.

My theory of why I got it involves a prior pain, from a groin pull about a month ago. I was at the gym doing less presses, and quite honestly pushing my limit - 450 lbs in fact - and felt the pain as I was doing that weight, but it was not immense so did not stop. On the next day was I sore in a new and unfamiliar way that said, "stop doing that." So I did stop. Didn't do another one for the next month, and only resumed on Friday with a maximum of 50 pounds.

(To assuage my sagging masculinity in admitting this I will boast of improved bench presses, though. After a long time I have finally gotten back to 225, a weight not seen more than once or twice in almost 20 years.)

But it was a slight movement, one not involving either my right adductor (groin) or my right pectoral (chest) that sent my lower back into painful protest. Methinks it is simply age, wear and tear. That, more than anything, is what bothers me.

You see, I am a late bloomer. Far from the wunderkinds and prodigies that often enthrall us, I was always the last to succeed. I was the last of my seminary colleagues to get a church, and when I did it was the smallest and poorest of them all. I arrived at my current church, a large and prosperous one, far later than most who get that honor.

For a long time this bothered me, feeling like the last and all, and then I realized that maybe I was on a longer arc than others. Mozart never lived to see forty, or Schubert. Those who did brilliantly in youth rarely outperformed themselves in age.

My nature, I told myself, was the tortoise not the hare - invoking a story that rewards plodding and unexciting work. My best days were still ahead of me!

So I told myself until this week. Then I thought of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela and and other 'elders' who rose to their peak long after youth, who manage to be both impressive and aged. That's a pretty good goal, now that I think about it.

But if I could avoid a cane a little longer, that would be nice, too.