I’ve been less active, overall, since recovering from total hip replacement surgery on my right hip on December 6 (the left one was done in April, 2008, so I kind of know the drill). As I hobble around, walking with the aid of a cane for about the next two months while I undergo physical therapy, I was frustrated with not being able to really “run the rat race” at my usual speed. Everything takes longer, especially my morning routine, and for a gay man, that’s a loooong time!
But it’s also allowed me to have one of the best holiday seasons in a long time, because when everything is slowed down, you really see every detail of your life. It’s like HD TV. And while, just like HD TV, it can show things that are unpleasant in detail (like noticing dust on things you don’t normally notice), for the most part, it brings vivid detail to life. The practice of “stop and smell the roses” is something a hip replacement will definitely inspire. I’m not smelling that many roses in December, but I am slowing down enough to savor things that we usually take for granted. Even walking. I’m so grateful that my inability to walk normally is temporary, a recovery from a surgery where muscles are strained, but not permanently damaged. It gives me a new gratitude for just the basic function of walking, and a renewed sensitivity and admiration for those who can’t. This recovery is not the most fun thing in the world, but I feel like I mustn’t complain, when I think of those who won’t walk with physical therapy, or at all — or those, like soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, who, because of Bush’s blood-for-oil wars, don’t have legs anymore. I will never forgive that awful — AWFUL — man for what he has done to our world, and to so many people. I will hold the legacy of George W. Bush in enmity for the rest of my life, as I do with the uber-evil Ronald Wilson Reagan (666). Because the policies of men like that lead to the needless suffering of men who struggle to complete the most basic of life tasks. Cane or not, one has to “stand” for something, and I try to “stand” for justice — particularly for the under-dog — whenever I can.
Having a physical challenge to overcome, then, sure does prompt philosophical thinking and perspective. And a certain “mindfulness”, which is a popular buzzword today in psychotherapy, however fleeting that model might be. Facing these temporary challenges as best I can, with the best attitude I can toward growth, gratitude, determination, persistence, and appreciation, is important because it helps me “walk my talk” with my clients. They see me in my office during therapy with my cane at my side, and there is a certain “If I can do THIS, you can do THAT” — whether it’s facing their own health challenges, or other kinds of life challenges that we work on in therapy.
Like everything, I try to take a lesson from this period of physical recovery and learn something from it. And the lessons are profound — appreciating every moment of life, especially at the holiday season, for we’ll all be walking right past the holidays, into the new year, cane-free, soon enough, walking full-pace back in the rat-race. I just hope I remember to still stop and smell the roses.