I’ve been here before. The place where I cannot move quickly, where the television is tempting and the couch calls, saying, rest, my dear, rest. Life slows down because my body calls uncle and the gift of time, the very thing I have been lamenting I don’t have enough of, is presented to me complete with a pretty bow. And yet I cannot settle into this space I have so longed for. I took a fall and now have an elbow that doesn’t flex enough for me to floss my teeth or cut my food. My foot is stuffed inside a bulky boot to stabilize the ankle and I’m aware that this could have been so much worse, so much, but that brings little comfort right now.
I began full time work with one of my favorite clients this February and two weeks into it I could see it was not the right fit for me. I was exhausted from being on my feet all day and being pulled into a thousand different directions. The evidence was clear, and clear quickly, that I am in a different stage of life now, space that requires I lower the intensity, slow down and devote full attention to the things I love instead of squeezing everything into the moments left over. After speaking with my client, we agreed to bring me back to contract work once my two weeks notice for the full time gig was up.
And though the letting go and telling my employer about my longing to return to part time was difficult, I felt I was releasing air after holding my breath for weeks. Turns out the certainty of steady employment and financial security was not what I most valued in my life.
It was on my last day as an official employee that I slipped and fell while making minor changes to the front of store displays. A turn to the left, a misstep and a fall onto the concrete floor and I knew it was not a minor fall. The barista helped me up and I instantly, and painfully, realized I could not put full weight on my left foot or my right hand. An urgent care visit confirmed that I had badly sprained my ankle and elbow.
My magical gift of time had arrived, but it didn’t look anything like my fantasy. I had hoped for freedom to do lots of yoga, push my body back into shape and walk in the woods before returning home to write or draw. My idea had been to devote some brain time planning the direction of my business. My idea had been to lower the stress. Minus one foot and one arm, these things became elusive.
But taking the job had taught me something important, that to me, time is the most valuable freedom I have, and I don’t know how much of it I have left. This crystal clear clarity in my priorities would not have been as apparent without my time being eaten up by other obligations. My children, my husband, my inner spirit, my extended family–the need to be present with these people, to be present with myself outweighs the worry and uncertainty of running my own business. I can live with the worry of what work comes next. I cannot live without time.
Before I made my decision about work, I fantasized regularly of a week on the beach in Sayulita, doing nothing but reading and writing, eating, drinking margaritas and swimming in the ocean or watching sunsets before dinner and waking next to the man I love with the sound of waves crashing. I needed to lower the intensity. I needed space in my brain, the kind of emptiness that creates magic.
After I fell, I sat propped on a chair with a dripping ice bag on my ankle, realizing that my elbow was actually beginning to hurt more than my foot and feeling grateful for the young employees of the store who were doing everything they could to support and encourage me. The reality of my situation slowly crept in.
The gift of time I wanted to give myself might not look exactly like what I had envisioned or come when I had planned, but I think the universe was telling me to slow the fuck down and I just hadn’t listened quickly enough.
I had intended to drive to Basalt the next day to work with two clients and meet with a potential one but as soon as I tried to straighten out my arm for the x-ray, I knew without a doubt I would not be going.
And, I cannot lie, though I had been excited about this trip, I felt relieved.
My body needs a rest.
So now I have time.