“I GOT HERE AS FAST AS I COULD”
By: Lauren Anderson
Whelp… my butt still hurts.
For those of you wondering why or what the hell is going on, the quick and dirty version is this:
I fell down some steps 2 weeks ago and got a severe contusion on my Coccyx.
AKA, I broke my butt.
It’s been weeks of tottering around and not being able to fully sit up for more than 30 minutes at a time. I went to the doctor and she basically prescribed me “REST”. So that’s what I’ve been doing. Resting.
And it’s BORING AS HELL.
I can’t even really sit at my computer and type. Or sit in a chair and read. I’ve just been laying around in between work and my commitments, RESTING, staring at my messy apartment and wishing I could move enough to actually CLEAN up the place. That’s how bad it is.
But mostly I am wishing I was anywhere else.
I was actually talking with a few friends this weekend about the power of rest, and how most of us don’t allow ourselves enough time to rest and heal. And how it was actually quite crucial for our health. Both mentally and otherwise.
I mentioned that this was partly why I liked winter so much.
“The whole world shuts down and rests, and in a way it kind of gives you permission to do the same.”
But as I lay here watching my 16th episode straight of Doctor Who in aching repose, I feel like eating my words. I DON’T WANT TO REST ANYMORE!!!
I want to run and jump and dance and lift weights and laugh without my butt hurting. I want to be able to pick up something off the floor without having to negotiate whether or not the pain is worth it. I want to quickly put on pants. I mean C’MON.
But there it is. I may WANT all these things, but just because I want them, and feel like I’m ready to get to gettin’– my body keeps telling me otherwise. And frankly, my body knows best. If I ignore what it’s saying and push myself too hard, then I am going to pay for it. And perhaps get hurt worse.
I have to keep reminding myself that I AM moving forward. My coccyx IS healing.
But it’s just so damn slow. And Patience has never been one of my strengths.
In spite of that, I do happen to have pretty good long game, and once I’ve set my eyes on something, I never give up. But it’s agonizing. I’m not patient about it. I just suffer, and then dig in my heels.
I was feeling kind of guilty about that fact. Like, why don’t I ever just cut my losses and move on quicker? I mean, a bunch of people I know seem to move so fast from one thing to the next. Why can’t I do the same?
I’m jealous of their ability to just pick up and head out and never look back. Or at least, that’s how I’m perceiving it. Maybe they’re compartmentalizing? And it will bubble up later? Or the desire wasn’t really something they wanted that bad in the first place?
But I’m not like that. I take A LONG TIME to decide I want or love something. And then once I decide it’s something I like/want/desire I inch towards it– slow and steady– for the rest of my f*cking life.
This has served me well in a lot of my pursuits. When some of my contemporaries tapped out because they thought the well had run dry, I stayed at it. I chug along. And I have to trust that eventually I will break through to the next level.
BUT THE PROCESS IS SLOW. Sometimes it feels like I’m moving backwards. Especially when other people put me on arbitrary timelines. Or want me to do what they think is best.
And I question myself too, especially when I see other people cut and run–and the joy they experience getting swept up in a new person/experience/job etc.
So I did some reading on it, in between my time-traveling adventures with Britain’s most lovable Doctor. And what I discovered is that Buddhist Monks have a lot of cool stuff to say about patience.
(I mean, D’uh Lauren, of course they do. That’s their whole thing right? But still– humor me?)
There is this “test” that I read about that’s about “kneeling in the snow”. When a person decides they want to be a monk, they travel to the temple and before they are permitted in, they are made to wait outside the temple in a kneeling position.
Sometimes it goes on for days. Sometimes it’s indeed, in the snow. Sometimes someone from inside the temple will come out and try and scare them off. But if they really want it, they will stay.
It is the first mark of the commitment they are willing to make.
I’ve read about this same sort of “scare off” tactic in other highly specialized fields. Like being a Navy Seal. Or even my freshman year of my acting major.
Almost daily my professors would say “This is a HARD career. There is no money. It is VERY competitive.” etc etc etc. Then they would say, “If there is ANYTHING else you could see yourself doing, please go do that instead.”
And it worked. By the time freshman year came to a close, the number of students dropped by half.
But what struck me about the monk story, and even their writings about patience is what they said about the suffering aspect of it. I thought people that were magically patient didn’t suffer.
I even had it in my head that monks feel pleasure or “closeness to the divine” by being patient.
But I was wrong there too.
Turns out, the suffering part of the patience is the most important part. By enduring the suffering I am experiencing, I am accepting that it IS. I’m no longer trying to push away suffering. Instead, I welcome it. And if I can accept and understand that there is suffering in everything then it no longer controls me.
We no longer run from it, or avoid it. We face it, accept it. Identify and name the suffering. And by letting it be, we are in fact released from it. And then—and only then– can we know true joy.
And patience is a way to “practice suffering”, so we can find and know peace.
WHOA. This totally switched my mindset on waiting for my body to heal. By accepting that my body needs this time to recover, I have released my frustration at how long it’s taking. I still have to be patient, and it’s still agony…especially when I want to be using my body for fun stuff.
I think it even helps knowing that even people who are KNOWN for being patient still experience suffering from practicing it. Even monks struggle with patience.
But if they want it hard enough, they will continue to kneel in the snow.
And if I want full use of my butt and my body back, I must wait for it to heal. Although, I won’t be kneeling any time soon. My version of kneeling in the snow right now is more of a side lounge on a memory foam mattress.
A lot of you may be shaking your heads cause I’ve just totally botched the teachings of Buddhism. I mean no disrespect. I know my understanding is basic and incomplete.
This is just a Spark notes/Cliff notes version of what I read from like 5-6 websites.
And if this isn’t resonating, I’d like to share a little story that my friend Ann told me a love story the other day on kind of the same topic.
It goes like this:
A guy is driving like, 90 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone. He gets pulled over immediately by a cop that was waiting for speeders at the side of the road. When the cop approaches the car, she says “I’ve been waiting for you all night.”
And the guy says, “I’m sorry, I got here as fast as I could.”
I think Ann heard this on an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” or something. Which makes me laugh, cause I’ve never really watched that show. But inspo comes in many forms and many voices. Sometimes it’s Buddhist teachings from the internet, and sometimes it’s Network TV.
But I can’t get the story out of my head.
Especially because I think that is an epic Meet Cute. It’s so cheesy and charming, that I’m pretty sure it would work on me. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for a love story.
I feel like it gives me hope and a lesson too.
So often I am impatient. This is a good reminder AGAIN that things take the time they take. The universe is conspiring to provide. That my body is working overtime trying to heal me.
And it’s okay to suffer while I try to be patient.
That the suffering is part of it. And it is essential even… because that helps us know joy.
And that speeding ticket may lead you to the love of your life.