What I Learned From Being Bed Ridden

In January I read 6 books because I had the time.  It was the hardest month of my life, and I am glad it’s over.  I sprained an ankle and while that seems an easy enough deal, I have yet to drive a car- 4 weeks later.

Happiness is…

There’s this quote by Blaise Pascal written above the inside of my closet door at my mom’s house.  It reads, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”  I remember it as “Happiness is when you can sit in a room by yourself.”  I first read it in Paul Auster’s Invention of Solitude.

An Obsession with Independence

I used to challenge myself.  When I was early in college, 19 or so, I was a bit distanced.  I wanted a growth oriented life.  My garden, books, goals, high waisted shorts, healthy living.  I wasn’t much into drinking and partying.  And alas, had just a few friends.  I used to bike ride to this place overlooking a lake in a fancy neighborhood.  I called it My Casablanca.  At night, I’d bike ride to this park and sit on this swing or lay on the ground and watch the stars.

Rine

I spent so much time in my room reading the news, writing my thoughts on it, doing schoolwork, reading poetry, and literature that I named my room another version of myself.  Rine.  I’d read the NYT cover to cover daily and post the most influential pieces on my closet door to stare back at me.  I had this old school desk made of solid wood and lots of cubbies.  I loved how everything could be compartmentalized.  I’d developed this bond to Emily Dickinson and felt closer to her in more ways than one. I’d close myself off to the world, except for work, class, farmer’s markets, Stardust, runs and bike rides.  I tried so hard to be happy sitting in a room by myself.  I felt mostly comfortable.

Growing Up and Getting Through Continued Oddities

Since that obsessive time that’s so easily in my nature (read and read and write), I’ve done things that tested my comforts, altered them and certainly stretched them.  Beyond that, I’ve become far more reliant on other people and certainly, movement as a way to keep from letting stillness eat me up.  It gets to a point where I feel bad if I choose not to exercise because that’s a sign of SOMETHING ELSE.  The days I choose not to exercise are often the days I need to exercise most.  i.e. I need the serotonin boost.  When I’m working x hours a day behind a computer, the movement intermission is what propels me further.

Imagining Dreading Being Holed Up

When I’d imagine the idea of not being able to workout for extended periods, I’d go into mini freak out mode.  It’s bizarre, but often pretty common.  I’ll gain weight, I’ll go crazy, I’ll get depressed.  As I grew older the idea of happiness via sitting in a room by myself became more and more of an impossibility.  I walk and read, hike and listen to audiobooks.  The stillness in reading a book often doesn’t exist for me.  That’s how my brain just works. MOVEMENT.

The Things We Pick Up

In the past few years, I’ve learned something additional, which is to be kind to myself.  I never know the extent of this, but that’s a skill I had to intentionally develop and am carrying around with me in my pocket. At the beginning it was more conscious than it is now, perhaps because it became such a foreign thing.  Now, I find it’s a natural way.  And in retrospect, gets me through the hardest things.

Pride

I would have never wished myself to be bed-ridden, obviously, but that’s just what happened.  I was bouldering doing this thing where I go upside down for a smidge.  I couldn’t manage, dangled there, fell onto the gym floor from a foot or two away and that was that.  A grapefruit sized ankle.  Swelling went down, but I couldn’t put any weight on it for 3 weeks.  My food had to be brought to me.  If I had to go down stairs, I sat and bumped my butt down one by one.  If I had to go up, I crawled.  If I had to go the bathroom, I hopped.  And then I got a boot.

I read so much.  I wrote.  I’m still doing these things.  More than anything, I’m proud of myself.  I, Erin Elisse, have not exercised in a month.  And?  No depression, no weight gain, no obsessiveness, and I’m okay.  I’m proud that through the ages, I learned not to be afraid of sitting in a room by myself.  Happiness is truly where I’m at.

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