I’ve had some downtime due to some injuries I sustained on Friday, and during the recovery process there have always been two battles I’ve learned to fight. The first is the obvious physical pain, and tending to the injuries. The second is the mental recovery and negative emotions that correspond with such events. It’s easy for me to get down on myself in these times and think that I’m a failure, or an idiot, or that I’ll never heal and function fully. On Tuesday I was really able to start walking again and my body started to slim down as the swelling subsided. I was able to start making a closed fist, and bearing weight on my right foot. It was a day of small victories.
The entire process is a battle. From the occurrence and being able to cope with the trauma, to the acceptance of the situation, to the discipline required to recover, and finally the restraint to slowly start physical therapy–it’s easy to jump right into overexertion. I had been fighting a depression that was onset by the incident which peaked over the weekend, with Sunday being one of my lowest days in a long time. And by the way, I’m not going to talk about what happened–maybe later.
Yesterday I started to see the light, and I was feeling that recovery was in my grasp and cheered up in the company of another friend who was down. By the end of the night we were laughing our asses off forgetting what problems we were fretting about.
When I get down and depressed or emotionally distressed I can always tell because my house goes to hell almost immediately. Bed unmade, dishes littered in the sink, every trashcan in the house overflowing, food rotting in the fridge (it was watermelon–I’m not doing that bad!), so when I woke up Wednesday comfortably mobile for the first time in days I set out to put my house in order, washing dishes and laundry and linens, sweeping floors and wiping off counters. It was while I was washing dishes that I started thinking a little bit about success, and kind of relating it to the recovery process.
I think one of the problems, what I’m calling a misconception and tragic error, is that success is often tied to a result, and I don’t think that is quite right, because the result is what I’m familiar with as achievement. If I walk through my entire life gauging my self-worth and self-success on my achievements then when I’m in the midst of a painstaking goal I’ll get stomped down by life and most likely quit before I truly succeed.
My success in this recovery process did not come today. Today was just the hard earned achievement of many successes over the past couple of days. Success was getting up, dusting off, and getting myself out of the situation I was in. Success was calming myself down and treating the injury induced shock by myself. It might not have been smart to not go to the hospital or call someone for help, but it was success nonetheless. Success was four days of torture in bed with my fucked up leg and foot raised above the rest of my body. It was 800mg of Ibuprofen every six hours and constant 15-20 minute ice cycles rotating to pretty much every region of my body. Success is not the achievement of a process, but rather the process of gaining an achievement.
And what’s so different about life? We face the same tedious types of challenges day in and day out, and it is those small victories that are our true successes. It’s so easy to put blinders on and focus on the far distant goal–on the achievement, while we disregard the truly defining small victories that we triumph through everyday–the true character molding events.
I have a very close friend who played a major role in my life and my still being alive who is one of the great story tellers I’ve ever known, and the end of one of his epic stories went as such: “Sometimes, Josh, It’s the ants that get us, not the elephants.”
Today I’m grateful for the ants, because the ants are like pixels in a large picture, and without them we’d be left with nothing to admire from a distance–no success to broaden our experience.