Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Zen Of Walking On Crutches

When I was in college I was introduced to a book called 'The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance'.

My first impression was that this seemed a peculiar book.

Who would maintain a motorcycle just for the carrying out of a spiritual practice?

I thought it might be a good excuse to get a motorcycle while in college. 'But Mom, Dad, I'm trying to get closer to God!'.

I came to understand that this book was not about your Harley running in top condition but about being present in your body through breath, awareness and presence.

The book is mainly about learning to get out of your head, which gets in the way of nearly everything we try to do.

It's a pretty interesting concept that anyone should be introduced to.

For about 3 weeks I've been getting around on crutches. Dangerous things they are, really. Recently, I fell on my back at Austin Java Company on Barton Springs. Fortunately there were people around that I knew who helped to pick me back up.

Don't ever rip your Achilles tendon. Just don't ever do that. That's the best advice I could ever give anyone. You'll save yourself a lot of aggravation.

Earlier this month I was running up the porch steps of my music studio, and my foot didn't quite make it on the first step. I tripped and promptly overextended my foot. When I gathered myself and felt above my right foot heel, I no longer had that all-important Achilles tendon.

I can understand how such a seemingly insignificant injury could bring down a mighty warrior.

Those few weeks after the initial accident, while I was on the floor at Austin Java Company on Barton Springs, or maybe it was on my way to the floor, I realized that one moment's lapse in awareness can send me down quicker than anything. I was negotiating a simple set of steps, and got distracted by something or someone.

This past weekend I was feeling pretty daunted by the looming 3 months of continued crutchness I'm going to have to endure while this thing heals. Sunday, I retreated to my parent's house in Houston so that mom and dad could nurse me back to a new determination.

When I came back I realized these crutches, while a hindrance to normal life, is its own spiritual practice.

It forces me to move slower, to think about what I'm doing and be aware, rather than just zipping through my day on auto-pilot.

It's too much trouble to back track-like having to go back to my car if I forget something.

If it seems like I have a love-hate relationship with these crutches, I do. The other day, I found out that using crutches can help develop those 'six pack abs' everybody wants.

The wheelchair that I have at work and in the back of my jeep on the other hand, is a blast. I've learned to pop wheelies in the chair to get up small steps. Earlier today I was on my way back from the orthopedic surgeon, and the parking garage had enough of a decline that it was a blast flying back to my car-while watching for cars, of course.

The other alternative is hopping around on my left foot, but that's really only good for very short distances....