Eighteen months ago it struck me that my story of enduring and recovering from a total hip replacement needed to be told. Enthusiastic friends, colleagues, and family urged me on, as they had observed my astounding healing process and also knew that my years as a professional writer would enable me to spew out a few meaningful sentences.
Scene of the crime: where the writing gets done . . .
While not a day goes by in which I fail to ponder and evolve from the book and its message, and while I have written multiple versions of multiple chapters for a total of thousands of words, there is still no “book” that I feel merits sharing with the world.
What I have learned is this:
1. Our stories, and the meanings we apply to them, are always in flux. When I look back on the life that led me to the precipice of being crippled for life, the steps I was forced to take to address this dismal fate, and the long path to full recovery (which itself is still a work in progress), I see not a fixed narrative but a kaleidoscope of shifting memories, incidents, encounters, moods, plans, strategies, coping mechanisms, denial, prayer, frustration, isolation, support, and encouragement that constantly tosses up new “spins” on where I have been, where I am now, and where this is all going.
2. Throughout this process, I have relied on input from a close circle of friends and advisers, who have listened carefully to my ideas and tried to point me in directions that would be true to my experience and whatever parts of it are worth sharing. Problem is, words fail–on my end, I’m not always clear about the story I want to tell. And each of us sees the world through different eyes, so whatever I do say or write gets read differently by each member of my team.
Bookcase I stare at while planning my next sentence. Will I do right by Harvard??
3. Specifically, as mentioned above, this book began as an attempt to inspire others by sharing my happy story of triumph over adversity. In order to do that, my readers advised, I needed to offer strategies, or at least tidbits of wisdom, that others could apply to challenges in their own lives. So far, so good. Except then I ended up trying to write a self-help book, churning out some not terribly fresh or original tips patched together from my own extended trip down the spiritual path.
4. Bottom line: I don’t like self-help books. I don’t read them. I don’t believe that any one person’s journey can be packaged and applied to anyone else’s (otherwise, we’d only need one good self-help book, and the whole mushrooming industry would collapse overnight). I even have a friend who gauges how far off her path she is by how many self-help books she is currently reading.
So, I found myself back at square one: wanting to share and to help others but in a way that feels true not just to my hip story but to my broader vision of how we learn and grow throughout our lives. A book that by definition can never be written.
The book I now envision is not a checklist of “answers” to or, God forbid, fool-proof techniques for overcoming the deep and often troubling events that we each face on life’s tumultuous path. Rather, it’s a book of questions. A space in which I can trace how I explored all manner of coping mechanisms, from spiritual truisms to abstruse philosophy to medical hardware, from community support to radical self-reliance, from prayer to setting my lands in order on the most practical level, in case things ran amok.
I don’t know if there’s an audience for a book of ponderings, of questions that remain open precisely because they address issues, events, and consequences that can’t be resolved simply, neatly, and permanently. That posits that none of us is ever “done” with this life until it’s really over. But that’s the book, for now, that I am ready to write. As the great poet Wallace Stevens wrote of a character in one of his poems, “He made up his mind, therefore he died.” I am still wildly, blessedly, curiously, and sometimes recklessly alive, and as confused as ever. If this sounds like your experience, I invite you to follow me down the rabbit hole of the kind of book I would like to read and to live by. More to come.
Advanced Classes at Mandala
My playful level 2/3 classes at Mandala Yoga in Amagansett (Fridays and Sundays at 3:00) are a great way to jumpstart you back to your best as spring approaches! Join us and watch your practice take off!
My weekly drop-in Injury Clinic at KamaDeva Yoga in East Hampton (Mondays 10:45-11:30) allow you some individualized attention to help heal and prevent injuries of all sorts, yoga-related, car accidents, pre-and post-surguries, whatever! The clinic is by donation, an easy and productive way to work through whatever ails you. Come by for a taste of how I work with bodies in all conditions.
Want to go deeper into yoga? Interested in possibly teaching? Our 6th Annual KamaDeva Yoga Immersion and Teacher Training starts up next October. Visit KamaDeva Yoga for details and pencil in the weekends before your schedule fills up!