Saturday, December 24, 2011


I just started Christmas Break from the school at which I teach. Yesterday, the day before break, is typically a blow-off and celebration day at schools. At ours, we watched Elf, played basketball, and shared good food that isn't good for us. It was lovely and fun and we wished everyone a happy and safe holiday as they walked out the door. I wished them well while standing with my foot resting on a bread bag filled with ice.

During the basketball game I had felt a soreness near the ball of my left foot up near my big toe. I hadn't been stepped on, hadn't tripped, hadn't in any way injured myself except I felt really sore. I stopped for a moment and tried to stretch it out, but nothing doing. We played for a moment or two more and then called the game with them feeling really tired and me limping. Back up in my classroom I discovered that it was really sore and sensitive to certain movements and touches. I got out of my shoe, my sock, and into some ice.

Much later, the pain got to be worse and constant, so I took myself to prompt care to have x-rays done. Turns out that nothing is broken, which is wonderful, but that something is sprained, which is painful, and I won't be doing a lot of walking for the next few days.

This goes too for running. Ugh.

My Christmas Break was set to be all about running and being fit. I was planning to get outside as much as possible, to put in a bunch of miles, to walk the dog, to play with the kids, to generally be active and out and about. This morning, a bunch of friends are doing an inaugural Christmas Eve run that I had been planning on doing with them.

Those plans are shot.

Yesterday, thinking about all of this, I felt the usual slide into, "woe is me, my life is ruined." It's my seven-year-old voice coming out again and I stopped for a moment to consider what I was saying and what I was thinking.

Yes, I'm sidelined from running for the day. Tomorrow, I'll see what's what. My guess is that I'll be out tomorrow too, but I don't know. It is literally a day-to-day thing. I can assess it each morning. I don't have to have it all decided right now.

Yes, it hurts a bit. I'm up at four in the morning because each time I turned in bed my toe caught on the blankets and woke me up like a cattle prod. It's tough to sleep when I feel like an Occupy protester getting attacked by the police every few minutes. But I have taken some pain killer, I'll ice it soon, and as the day goes on, the pain is likely to diminish. Besides, it's nice to be awake at this hour, typing, drinking hot coffee, and having the place to myself.

This is a setback, but I'm thinking about that word and I find that I really like it. Setback sounds like something that someone would do to a player's game-piece on a board. I've been setback three spaces but the dice will come around the table again, I will roll, and I'll move forward.

The other thing about this is that my wife is lovely.

Yesterday, when I told her I had hurt myself, she was so loving, so sympathetic, but also so normal about it. These things happen, especially to a 43-year-old who still has a blast playing ball with his students. She asked if I wanted her to take me to prompt care, if she wanted someone to wait with me. She read the instructions sent home by the doctor, she got me a pillow to elevate my foot, she told me to sit and let her do all the work. These are the small works of true love.

There's a lesson or moral or metaphor here and I'm too much of a hack to let it go unstated. I've been setback three spaces in this game and lost my turn. I now have nothing to do but sit and look at the world, listen to what is going on around me, and be present to all that is going on. That it is Christmas Eve and I will be seeing a whole slew of good friends tonight and that tomorrow I will watch my children tear into gifts with glee is an added bonus.

I've been set back and now I can sit back and be aware of wonder and joy. Talk about a nice holiday gift. I'll miss running, but even with a sprained foot and toe I'll write on.