Thoughts of Late: Throbbing
Typing has proved more difficult… as has other such tasks such as writing, drawing, and opening a certain type/shape of doorknob. For those of you who don’t know… I recently injured my right index finger… well… I did so a few days… perhaps weeks ago, I cannot really keep track of what day it is anymore. It was shut in a car door while visiting my nieces. I was bleeding profusely… and rushed into the house, but stopping to say hello to Eleri and Mali as they excitedly shouted, “Aunt Zina!” as I said “Hey girls! Aunt Zina is going to go in the kitchen and she will be right back!” As I rushed into the kitchen, I ran cold water over it as I grabbed a local rag, and used it as a gag to muffle a scream of utter pain. I felt faint… I actually felt like I was going to pass out… staggering to a table, falling upon it, and crying. I do not usually cry at physical pain. Emotional pain… yes…. physical pain… no. This is because I am actually a quite frail individual who tends to bruise rather easily. I get hurt in my own house almost daily. What’s more, is that I do not become faint at the sight of blood. I am actually quite accustomed to it… I am a fan of zombie movies… so I could take that. I think it was from the pain. Well, my mom decided we had to splint it. Eleri helped me eat a Popsicle so we could use the sticks from it (it was a double Popsicle)… so she really ‘took one for the team’ to help Aunt Zina… which I’m sure was her intention as she happily munched on its orange goodness. Well, my finger splinted, I went for a few days, being back in Colorado, until I could feel some horrific pain from it, which caused me to run outside, gather snow, and dunk it in the snow. The pain was much like a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon where Jerry promptly smashes Tom’s hand (or perhaps, for the sake of this example: finger) and it throbs at an exaggerated size and red color. This was exactly how my finger felt.
I did not sleep at all this night. I was rushed to the ER the next day where they drilled two tiny holes in my finger nail to release the pressure. The rest is rather grotesque… so, I will spare those details. So, now, I suffered with a giant finger for days… and it seems to just now be making some improvement. For days it looked as if a rather old, perhaps crotchety, fat troll took my finger in my sleep and replaced it with his. Or, perhaps a scene from “Evil Dead 2” in which my finger is bitten by the dead themselves.
This is a ‘Finger Diary’ from the first day of the injury to where it is today, documenting the main changes in it. A few nights ago, I babysat the daughter of my welding mentor (Jeff Skoloda): Ella, and she decided to ‘fix’ my finger with a Perry the Platypus band-aid from the animated show “Phineas and Ferb.”
I am awaiting the nail to fall off, but some local women told me that they thought I would lose the tip of my finger. This had not occurred to me, and, rather than be upset, I considered what I could replace it with… perhaps an LED light/flashlight… a screwdriver… or even, perhaps the most useless: a thimble. Maybe all of the above… like this:
In all honesty, I had grown rather tired of my finger and hated all the pain that went with it. Through the strange discussion I had with these women, I remembered one of my favorite quotes, one which I hope to explore further in the future through an animation: “The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones, which will give him no pain or trouble.” – Henry Miller
The reason why I delved so deeply into my painful story of my smashed finger is not to conjure up some sympathy, tell jokes, or even to share/compare wounds like vikings discussing their last battle. No… this is to simply to describe, using this visual, something that became quite clear to me. Emotional pain takes its toll on us in much the same way… and it is that throbbing, consistent reminder that leaves us with options in order to treat it. Some of us would be prone to ignore it… but then it just becomes worse… it throbs… and it eats away at us… just like my finger was eating itself… essentially. When we ignore it, the only thing that comes of that is a really ugly life (like my finger)… and it pains us even more. We are forced to look at it, and soon everyone sees it for what it is: a really ugly, nasty thing that nobody wants in association with who they are. What is worse is when we pretend like it is okay. I couldn’t very well say my finger was ‘okay’… it was obvious that it looked like a large, washed up whale of a thing that had sat on a beach for a few weeks. It was not pretty. However, I could hide it in my pocket, or have it covered by a band-aid (like what Ella supplied)… and those that were none the wiser would not know any different. I could say it looked great and that everything was fine. No, lying about my finger does not make it better… it is still the throbbing, beastly thing that it was. I might convince people it was fine, but that does not make it so. Therefore, I say this to say that one must drain their lives of turmoil, rid themselves of the disgusting puss in our lives… and allow our lives to be a better reflection of who we are, instead of looking like they belong to a nasty troll creature that replaced our life with his in the middle of the night while we were sleeping. As strange of a comparison this is, I share it because it is amazing the life lessons we are given every day in the most seemingly of odd places. I want to be an honest woman… who does not hide who I am. I am not saying I have not been this way, but this made it all the more apparent. So, in the midst of emotional pain, heartbreak, and everything imaginable comes this injury. There is beauty and lessons in even the most painful experiences… embracing them can only make you stronger. I could not even move my finger for a time due to immense swelling, which is another example of how immobilizing our lives can become if we let the nasty parts override the good. Internalizing negativity, pretending everything is okay when it is not, can only lead to swelling that leaves the joints of our life (like the bones of my finger), the very elements that give our lives movement, unable to move. I say all of this to say, I hated my finger for a time and even joked about how I wanted to amputate it because of the immense pain… but sometimes embracing it for what it is allows me to develop a different viewpoint and strengthen myself as a person. This may be a deep revelation to develop from a finger, and I am not saying my heart does not hurt, it does constantly right now, but I must take that pain and allow it to promote only good.
This brings me to my next point. When my finger hurts, it does so by throbbing. This throb is directly synchronized with my heart… the faster my heart beats, the faster the rate of my finger’s throb becomes. Having had past physical heart pains, I know what the emotional and physical side to that pain is. Throbbing is hard to ignore… it is constant, it is there, and it tells me what my heart is doing… like a direct link. When I became distressed, my heart would beat faster, and I could, thus, feel it in my finger. This is interesting because when one’s life throbs from pain, it is a link to one’s heart. If our hearts are linked to our lives through this throbbing, we can see it as a way to love even in pain, to express our heart in our lives, and, in turn, our lives in our hearts. Life and death become linked to the very fabric of how we process, but should not be set into categories of what is beautiful, true, and heartfelt… and what is not. This revelation lead me to find this poem:
Stream of Life
by Rabindranath Tagore
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
This poem spoke to me in that everything is connected in our lives. A beautiful tapestry has been woven, and every thread plays a part in its entire beauty. Our “life-throb”… our connection to everything in this world. That throb, we can feel it… sometimes it is due to pain, but there is utter beauty in even that. The beauty of the ebb and flow, each beat of our hearts as they pulsate to the rhythm of our surroundings, and our feelings. I think the problem I am having with this world is not expecting it to be fair or unfair, but the limiting perspective our society offers. As I’ve said at times in the past, people surround themselves with things that make them feel comfortable; lives revolve around being comfortable. True love is so quickly sacrificed for comfortable feelings and meaningless, empty physicality. Loved ones are so quickly sacrificed for the comfortable feeling of popularity amongst many. Outside people, the ones that do not break the barrier of the small worlds people have created… are ignored… because it is so much more comfortable to live in the worlds that they have created for themselves. Comfort is praised above all in this day in age. We have devices that offer us what we want when we want it… and a sense of entitlement is suddenly instilled in us that we feel we should feed the need for our comfort, even if it means hurting others. Among this goal of comfort are other pursuits I believe need to be reevaluated. People associate truly beautiful moments with being comfortable… and love with being comfortable. I can tell you, that is not the case. There was never so much love in the hospital room where my sister lay. There were overflowing tears, intense pain, and it was almost unbearable. However, there was beauty in the sheer, unbounded love that resonated there. I held onto my brother, my sister-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my mother… and you could feel unbounded love for each other and for my sister. Yet, at the very same time, there was a different type of beauty and unbounded love in the room with my new nephew as I saw new life, a new future, and a new hope lying right in front of me. Here was little Curran… who was innocent and pure. These were two very different situations, on opposite ends of the spectrum, yet they carried the similarity of intense, overpowering love… and, in that, beauty. I am not talking about look-at-the-pretty-stars type of beauty… I am talking about overpowering, bring-you-to-your-knees, let-all-emotion-go, lose-yourself-in-it, above-everything kind of beauty.
The search for comfort should not be upheld over what can be done in a state of being uncomfortable. Ignoring that throb in our lives will leave us motionless, but embracing it allows us to sync our hearts with it, and love unbounded. I must accept where I am at, embrace it, and let something beautiful come from it. I am not looking for security, I am looking to go past myself, past these emotions, past this limiting body… to find something so much more meaningful and beyond that. My sister would have wanted me to not be at a standstill because I hurt… I can almost hear her telling me that… and I won’t be still. I am not going to cut out pain in favor of feeling nothing… I am not going to ignore it… I want to go beyond what is expected in this world, embrace the throb, and pursue something beyond security in heart and mind.