Friday, April 17, 2009

Among the Redwoods

When I was really sick, and I mean really, I spent my days mostly pacing, trying to stay a half step ahead of pain. My entire attention was turned towards noticing degrees of pain in my body. My ability to focus on the world outside of pain became not only limited, but eventually came to feel unnecessary. It was just pain and me. Even Richard was peripheral.

I made lists in my mind about the things I would never get to do again. Things I would mourn, but would sacrifice if it could placate pain and reduce its grip. (The mind takes some strange turns when you're in pain).

I gave up Paris. I knew I would never make it to the Latin Quarter and sit at an outside table at les Deux Magots sipping un grand creme. I gave up scuba diving. I had already felt the incredibly soft underbelly of a sting ray off the Cayman Islands, and could live on that memory. The hardest thing to give up was hiking. Hiking is breathing. It is heart. It is my connection to my body on the earth. But I offered it up to pain, if only pain would go away.

Now, years and medications later, I am hiking again. A few days after a recent relapse and pill recalibration, Richard and I were hiking through giant redwood forests in Armstrong State Park near the Russian River in California.

Wings sprouted and I glided on the wind currrents up and down trails. I inhaled panoramas of rolling hills, ocean, river, clouds, sky. I felt invincible and humble.

When we landed back at the trailhead, feeling the glorious pain of exhaustion and depleted endorphins, we celebrated.

This was a special occasion.


Emily said...

That's fantastic - so glad you're able to hike again! I am a teensy bit jealous again, I can't wait to be able to hike without head pain.

I'm so glad you've had this breakthrough!

Barbara K. said...

Thanks Emily. It comes and it goes. I ride the winds. I hope you get to do what you miss doing very soon

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Young Wife said...

Hi, there! I just found your site. This is a great post full of hope! I'm so glad you were able to go hiking! Are you hopeful for Paris?

Barbara K. said...

Welcome Young Wife - haven't made it to Paris yet. But hope is always around.