Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Disappointment, Resilience, Disappointment, Resilience

"Coordinate brain and mouth. Then ask me what's it like to have my self so figured out...Wish I knew...this is the price you pay for loss of control." Brand New
Two days ago (March 4th), I hit the 100,000 foot mark with a quick jaunt up Mount Sentinel. The hike, although enjoyable, was rather uneventful. Fortunately, the outing was more than a hike, it had a purpose: it served as reconnaissance for the next day's adventure.

In the New Year, my friend Dave began work on a snow cave on the lee side of the south summit of Mount Sentinel. Last week, with the work completed, he and I scoped it out.The thing was spacious! Room for three with gear (and a Scrabble board), we made the plan for an overnight when he was feeling better (Dave was feeling a bit under the weather at the time).

The opportunity presented itself this week with the coming of Dave's birthday and colder temperatures. With Dave back to full health and his birthday on the horizon - who wouldn't want to wake up in a snow cave on top of a mountain on their birthday! - we decided March 5th was the night for the ascent and overnight in the snow cave. We would follow the next day, Dave's birthday, with a morning game of Scrabble in the snow cave and a quick ascent of University Mountain before heading back to town.

The reconnaissance outing - the March 4th outing - proved important. With sustained above freezing temperatures and rain over the last week, we were uncertain of the state of the snow cave. Approaching the cave from the north, I quickly noticed a slightly sunken roof. Fearing the worst - that mother-nature or the child of a mother had its way with the cave, I quickened my pace and discovered a fully collapsed shelter.

Now, I consider myself pretty darn unflappable, but the collapsed snow cave tested my emotional limits. Although I cannot say with 100% certainty - I am not an "ice crimes" forensic scientist - that the damage was human-caused and intentional, a jury of snowflakes would likely deliver a guilty verdict to humans-at-large. The human footprints were there, the damage appeared deliberate and the roof slunk with woeful intentionality. Of all of the feelings that upwelled in that moment, the most powerful was of sadness wrapped in disappointment for Dave. He had invested a lot of calories and sweat making the thing. Not only was it that his hard work was for naught, but that we would not be able to pass the following evening playing Scrabble in the warm, still comfort of the snow cave. Disappointment.

I relayed the news to Dave. Discouraged, but undaunted, Dave and I decided to move ahead with the outing. We would be bringing our shelter on our backs. A tent was the answer. Resilience.

Now here is where the story should get interesting. But. It does not.

My knees have been rather unhappy with me, as of late. Achey and sore with twinges of sharp pain, they - my left in particular - have been slower to recover as the last two months have progressed. Everything has a point of imbalance. A point where too much is really too much, and balance is lost. Where physical, mental, emotional and spiritual limitations are real. It is a place where the reality of it all - the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual - can no longer be ignored (not in good faith). A place where balance is supplanted by imbalance and control is lost. Unfortunately, those four components of life have been out of sync in my life post-RA diagnose and knee surgeries: physical limitations now lie well before mental, spiritual and emotional limits. My mind and soul are capable of going miles and miles further than my body is physically able.

Following my reconnaissance outing on the 4th, my knees screamed "stop, rest awhile!" and my emotional self forcibly retorted, "not a chance! we ride!". My mind, backed by the comfort of my spiritual self, interjected: "it is okay, rest awhile".

Yesterday (March 5th),  I passed the morning at work half-focused on my immediate tasks and half-distracted by the impending point-of-decision: do I call off the outing or go forward with it and risk further damage to my knees. Framed that way, the answer is fairly obvious. And I chose correctly. I called off the outing. Disappointment.

Of course, there is the immediate disappointment of calling of a promising adventure with one of my closest friends. But there is also this acquiescence of a limit: I can go no further. Very disappointing. Amazingly, a sense of peace came over me at that point-of-decision. Stop. Rest awhile. Seek answers.

On my walk home from work I made the call to Missoula Bone and Joint to have my knees examined next week. Peace seems to accompany understanding. Understanding limits. Understanding the possibilities. Resilience.

I'll be back.


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