Gil leaps into discovery like only an 8-year-old boy can. All the fields lie open – space, sports, cryptography, music – and he eagerly throws open the door to each new passion, exciting him and his parents alike.
Now my nephew is learning something new. Namely, the breaking point of a human wrist after falling from a moving scooter.
So, Gil’s left arm now sports a bright red cast. It’s a minor bump on the road of a grade-school summer. After all, it’s hard to play tennis or piano with one hand down. But there’s still robotics, camping, clubs, a steady flow of books … just about everything that doesn’t involve experimenting with how to pop a wheelie. (Ahem.)
This IS the injured kid, right?
Cast or no cast, Gil’s still moving. It’s what he does.
But then, whatever the shocks, life keeps moving. It’s what it does.
Sometimes whether we’re ready for it or not.
You know what I mean. We’ve all been there. The broken places. The moments where life throws up a big stop sign for a moment and says “THIS. THIS is what you will be paying attention to.”
Sometimes we’re lucky. We get the temporary hurts: the broken foot that heals, the smashed-up car that’s insured, the explosive argument that eventually slips into the past.
Sometimes … not so much.
Sometimes it’s a tragedy, whether personal or national, that leaves a hole in the heart that will not go away.
Sometimes it’s the painful calls of your own mind and body, the illnesses that don’t heal, the weights on the soul that just hang.
Sometimes it’s a break in the road. A realization that life is going to be different from this particular point forward, and there’s no way to turn around and get the old journey back.
Time moves differently in the broken places, or it seems to. Outside, the world flashes past at high speed. But closer in, things just … stop. Time has been condensed into one event that must be lived, one tale that must be told. Sometimes repeatedly.
I’ve mentioned before how offensive it is to tell someone to “move on” after a loss of any kind, how you don’t just discard grief or pain or emptiness like a worn-out T-shirt. But there’s another side to it, too.
Namely, that you don’t have to feel guilty for being happy.
We’re good at that, you know. We find ourselves re-entering time and letting ourselves forget for a moment – to laugh, to enjoy, to marvel – and then feel bad because we know the cause of the hurt hasn’t gone away. As though we’re betraying a memory, or getting distracted from a crucial issue that needs our focus.
I’ll say it simply. It’s OK.
It’s OK to not think about hurting all the time.
It’s OK to enjoy things again.
It’s OK to let other things into your life.
You’re not doing anything wrong.
Yes, we all need time apart. We all need time to heal. We all need to acknowledge the hurts, however that has to happen.
But it’s OK to look out from there if you feel like it. To see. To do. To live. To let light shine on the broken places.
As a friend observed, that’s how you make mosaics.
Gil’s cast will be off before we know it. Soon, he’ll be more unstoppable than ever, full-speed ahead, charging into all that life has to offer.
But then, his motion never really stopped. It just changed direction for a while. That’s a useful thing to remember.
Along with being really, really careful about those wheelies.