Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Poolside Lesson in Humility

This past Tuesday, my friend Carolyn's husband asked me, "So, why did you break your leg?"  

I was taken aback for a moment by the audacity of the question.  Usually, when one suffers a tragedy, or has an accident of some kind, one will wrack their brain trying to figure out why it happened.  "Why me?," has always been a popular question.  But what he wanted to know was, "why did you create the accident?"

I believe in the spiritual philosophy that I create my own reality, but I told him that I'd not been able to come up with a reason that made any sense.  

Still, he got me looking at some questions that I hadn't bothered to think about lately.  In addition to "Why did I break my leg?" Questions like:  What have I learned over the past six months?  What benefit did I get out of the accident?  Why am I still using the broken leg as an excuse to be a victim, to get sympathy, to be liked, to be lazy, to take it easy. Whaaaa?  What was that last part?  To take it easy?  What's wrong with taking it easy, I wonder?  And why am I still using the broken leg to beat myself up?  Why am I not letting go and moving on with a new story about the broken leg, and what new story can I tell?.... 

After living with these questions all day Tuesday, I went to Senior Water Aerobics class on Wednesday with a renewed sense of acceptance.  (Although I hadn't come up with an answer to "why" I broke my leg, I know I wouldn't have joined a "Seniors" class had I not needed gentle water therapy).

After the class, I stayed in the pool to do extra leg exercises.  An elder woman from the class whom I'd often smiled at, but never talked with before, made a casual comment:  "You haven't had enough, huh?"  I answered with, "well, I just need to strengthen my leg."  She asked me if I was recovering from a surgery.  And I said, "yeah, I broke my femur in March."  I saw the sadness in her eyes as she said, "my son did that."  She paused.  Then she said, "he got a blood clot."  I paused.  "Did he make it?" I asked.  "No."

She went on to tell me that her 37 year old son fell in a hole, much the same way that I did, and landed wrong, just like I did.  He had surgery, just like I did, was recovering well, went home, and two weeks later developed a blood clot that traveled to his lung and killed him.  She said she didn't understand why the doctor hadn't prescribed a blood thinner, why her son had only been prescribed aspirin.  (Blood thinners are usually prescribed after femur surgery, because the risk of developing a blood clot is so high).  She said she didn't understand why her son, who was a good Christian, happily married with two children, was taken so soon.  But, she said, she had to accept that "the Lord must've needed him for some reason." 

As I quietly listened, I thought about the fact that I chose not to take the blood thinners that were prescribed to me after surgery.  And I wondered why I escaped a blood clot.  Why was I so blessed?  Why was I given the opportunity to survive, live, grow, change?

Today, I'm still pondering all of the questions and I am filled with humbleness and gratitude.


  1. Holly, this is one of the best things I've read in a long time.

    Thank you.


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