It wasn't until I grabbed the scalding hot handle of the frying pan that my mind stopped racing. I had been cooking, ranting, crying, expressing great disappointment and sadness. I put the already hot frying pan in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes to finish, promptly took it out with an oven mitt and placed it on the stove, all the while still weeping. I turned to get some utensils and turning back to the white hot frying pan, tears streaming, heart bursting with sadness, I grabbed that handle with the grip of ten women. In the split second it took to grab that scorching hot handle, I became present enough to accept the burn as part of the lesson. After all, it was too late at that point, my skin had already been seared like my dinner, and now, I finally slowed down enough to get it. I dropped the pan and allowed myself just a little more sobbing, ranting, crying and expressing great disappointment and sadness while running my hand under cold water.
That was one bitter dinner.
Maine is one of my favorite places to visit and Jimmy and I were so looking forward to this trip. We loved to take long journeys in the RV and this was a big one for us driving from our Garden State to the furthest most point in the Eastern United States. We were both very excited, busy with preparations, plans, discussions and details. It was also my birthday week and I was very happy with the prospect of celebrating in Maine, on Cadillac Mountain! We were deep in conversation crossing things off of mental lists and the next thing I know, I am falling backward looking at Jim but he's too far away to save me. Everything slowed down and in a warped split second in time, I was on the basement floor, holding my broken wrist and I hear myself crying, "I BROKE it". Then I hear Jim saying, "NOOOooo"! I grabbed my wrist and began doing Reiki, speaking healing, but similar to the burn experience, presence of mind was somewhat lacking and then, I went into shock.
Of course, this begs the question, "What the hell were you thinking"?
Jimmy and I had a nice little bit of time at the ER that night to come up with all sorts of answers. We got to ponder it for quite the long while after that having to endure our beautiful vacation with a brick on my arm, followed by six weeks of occupational therapy once the cast came off, and healing bone glory that lasted just about a whole year, all to regain the use of what was my perfect hand just prior.
Well, I wasn't thinking, was I? Not clearly anyway.
I was thinking many exciting thoughts simultaneously, and I was planning a lot of things, but I was not present. While speaking with Jim, lost in thought, planning and talking, another part of me was reliving my teenage years remembering riding a skateboard barefoot in the street. In my defense, I am a bit of a tomboy so, naturally, I absentmindedly stepped on the back of that skateboard that had been in my garage for a few years, brand new, never used, wrapped in plastic. I had taken it from the garage earlier in the week in preparation of giving it to a friend with younger brothers. I obviously did not give it away fast enough. Stupid? Yes. Daring? Absolutely. Did I remember to step on the front of the board and not the back? Yes, as soon as I hit that terribly hard, slate floor, my right wrist bone fractured and I could no longer use my hand. Funny how the mind works like that.
I became quite proficient using my left hand that Summer. The lessons came one right after the other, I'm sure you can imagine, brushing your teeth, brushing your hair, feeding yourself, cleaning yourself, showering, all with your non dominant hand. It became so exceptionally hard to do anything and everything that I also became quite proficient in overcoming.
Presence of mind can be a tricky little bugger. Sometimes we think we are so present, and we are sound asleep dreaming, remembering, worrying, fretting, angering, waring, creating so much drama in our experience, it's a wonder we can produce anything of true value in our lives. The scale tips in both directions for me, and probably you as well. My highs were too high, and my lows, way too low.
I am still pretty proficient at this.
Last week, I once again, burned myself in almost the same manner as I had in the past. And, when I say past, it was a few years ago that I burned my hand, and even more since I broke my wrist. I am wondering, what has changed?
I have the word 'joy' tattooed on my left wrist and the burn from my stove came so close to it. It actually has two places with second degree burns, and the rest is clearly first. The symbolism is not lost on me. There is something inside of me that still needs to burn, transmute, change, no longer be and what ever it is, it is burning me on the inside and out. It has the potential to steal my joy, if I allow it, if I am not careful, present, discerning. I know I am not alone in my challenges. I know there are many broken and distracted hearts out there in our beautiful world. I am wondering when I will be truly whole enough to help them. I know it all starts with me and I am putting my thoughts and energy into myself, not outside somewhere.
Without me, there is no story. Without me, there are no victories, or losses to learn from. Without me, there is no game and while I have suffered, I have also overcome. While I have lamented, I have also rejoiced. While I have cried, I have also laughed so hard, tears of joy have streamed down my cheeks onto my chest. I have been soaked in joyful tears, as well as sorrowful ones, and I will always choose to overcome and bounce back.
I will always choose joy.
But what if others around aren't joyful? What if they do not choose joy? Well, don't worry about them. Just be the joy and they will see your radiance and be perplexed by it. They won't understand it but they'll be drawn to it. Just shine your light, no matter what happens and know that with each experience, each joy, each sorrow, we are growing in knowing who we are, what we are, what we want to experience and what we don't. Don't accept the situation. Challenge it. Challenge yourself to be more present, to go slower and to appreciate the abundance, endless choices and possibilities life affords. Life is really so very magical to me and despite a lot of hardship, I am such a happy person. Deep down in my soul, I am happy and have enough to spare. I love to make people smile, warm and happy. I love to uplift a sorrowful heart. I love to turn a frown upside down. :) Sounds trite again, but it isn't. Your smiling face is like the rays of the sun beaming out to the world. If you're sad, let it out. If you're angry, let it out, get it out, but don't cook while you're doing it. Do one thing at a time, right on time, and do it well. You will have less scars in the end and you'll be able to enjoy your dinners and vacations a whole lot more.
If nothing else, learn from my experience. It is leading me to what I am to be.