My birthday dawned like that this year, a glorious warm autumn day after weeks and weeks of rain. I grabbed my camera and took off on a fungi hunt … autumn and lots of rain are the perfect precursor for fungi to burst through the earth.
I wasn’t disappointed. From toadstools no more than half and inch in size, peeping out through leaf-strewn earth, to large, fleshy, beautifully coloured specimens that looked like something from Alice in Wonderland … I was enchanted.
And then I spied them; two amazing toadstools snuggled on top of a rocky outcrop. Not satisfied with the long shot, I climbed up to get a closer look. Climbing back down I encountered another one of those unexpected surprises. Slipping on the wet rock I lost my footing and fractured my ankle.
There’s something very revealing about being stopped in your tracks. Suddenly I was acutely aware of emotions and reactions I don’t usually encounter and didn’t like … acute frustration, irritation, impatience and anger at myself for causing it in the first place. Oh the if-onlys!
My solution was resignation … it’s happened, make the best of it and “it could have been worse”. I was indeed grateful that I didn’t break my hip or leg and end up in hospital. I was grateful for the boot, clumsy as it is, it’s a great improvement on a plaster cast or crutches, but none of those thoughts really dealt with the level of frustration that I fought on an hourly basis.
As the weeks passed and I resigned myself to endless inactivity, something quite miraculous happened. As I allowed myself to embrace the opportunity to read, reflect, imagine and write, imperceptibly my frustration gave way to a realisation of how precious this time was. I found myself reading more attentively and being stunned by the new insights that came to me. Time became irrelevant and I luxuriated in the space and time without structure.
I’d journeyed from resignation to acceptance and the experience of freedom was indescribable.
Freedom from the pressure to want to do what I wasn’t able to do, freedom from all those ugly emotions that kept me in a vicious cycle of negativity, and freedom to embrace the new possibilities that this downtime has demanded.
Acceptance unlocks the potential to learn through experiences … it’s not passive like resignation, its alive with possibilities. It comes hand in hand with gratitude, contentment and a peaceful mind and heart.
As I hand back my boot in 3 weeks time, there will be a sense of disappointment I could never have anticipated the day I strapped it on and stumbled awkwardly out into the car park. I can’t say I’m grateful I fractured my ankle or had to learn the interesting skill of moon boot walking but I can say that I am deeply grateful for this season of my life.