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A December Reckoning

It’s an early December day and I am 20 minutes into more than an hour’s walk in Nichols Arboretum near my home in Ann Arbor. I marvel that I am walking. Just a month ago I took a fall that could have paralyzed or killed me. I sustained compression fractures in two vertebrae, and a broken wrist, but I am recovering slowly and steadily. The intense pain and shock reaction after hospitalization and surgery have faded, but what remains is a paradoxical sense of well-being—the feeling that in some profound way I have dodged a bullet and I’d best do something life affirming as a result. This was not really a near-death experience, but it truly scared me. It was a careless fall down a dark stairway, that taught me some lessons.

Perhaps on the heels of family deaths and near deaths and a year and a half of navigating political crisis and a pandemic, the resulting injuries and the shock of how much worse it could have been changed the low-grade malaise that has frustrated me recently. Instead, I feel energy directed more toward all the reasons I have to feel contentment, gratitude, and purpose. It’s good to remember how fortunate I am in family, friends, and community and the natural world.

Being forced to accommodate to major physical limitations has caused me to think about my tendency to push the boundaries of what I take on to the point of unhealthy stress. I hadn’t previously given a lot of thought to the relationship between vulnerability and openness but I'm thinking a lot about it now. I could certainly do without the exhaustion I feel by the end of the day from just being vertical, but I am learning something about slowing down and feeling comfortable and accomplished with doing less.

What does it all mean for my authorial pursuits? I lost a month of writing time, but as a result of being unable to type with my left hand, I've learned how to use the voice to text function on my computer— small silver linings! I will plan a trip this spring to Portugal, Spain, France and Germany to complete research on my third novel, and try not to worry whether I will really get to go on this long-delayed adventure. In the meantime, I am back to working on the book. I am working on taking care of myself and those I love. And as always, I am grateful for all those in my reader and writing communities who will read these words! Wishing everyone all the best during the holiday season and in the new year.