Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Anniversaries

You have to have a Facebook account to understand the point I am about to make, and even though I use Instagram all the time and don't often use Facebook there is one feature of that so intrusive platform that has left its mark on me lately. It keeps posting pictures that I posted a year ago, or two, or more. I have come to understand it's been a busy couple of years.
Two years ago roughly Hurricane Irma wrecked the Lower Keys, the eye of the storm ran past my house on Cudjoe Key and tore up everything along Spanish Main Boulevard. Facebook has been rewarding me with views of the damage. Thanks but really I don't need them. This year so far Bermuda and Ocracoke have had their share of destruction, not to mention the northern Bahamas which have taken more than their share, and we are keeping our fingers crossed as storms get backed up coming across the Atlantic. Karen is the latest, bearing in mind another K, Katrina wrecked New Orleans, so Katrina is no longer used. Lorenzo is in the back there near Africa and scheduled to go north into the ocean. Good.
The other anniversary Facebook takes the time to remind me of relates to my hospital stay last year. It's worth mentioning I suppose that I lay in a hospital bed helpless it did occur to me that it would be a good year for no hurricanes to threaten southeast Florida and in that respect I was lucky. The notion of being evacuated in a gurney was not morale boosting. This year a prolonged stay in a Miami hospital would be a much more nerve wracking affair with all the storms coming by. To that extent I was lucky.
But my luck spread in other directions too, as I had no spinal column damage and could work my way back to walking pretty much normally. I am still very conscious of putting one foot in front of the other but I can walk moderate distances. When I visited Webb we walked 2.7 miles one morning into town and home again. He has a measuring device attached to himself which was how I knew.  I have been taking spinning classes at the gym so I know I can ride a bicycle.
One year on my ideas about my life have been altered by my rite of passage last year in and out of hospitals and physical therapy and so forth. My near death experience has remained with me, time has not softened the experience as I expected it to and the memory remains with me every day. I can say though that it has in some way I cannot easily explain, removed the sense of urgency I used to have pressing at the back of my mind. Before my crash I had a nagging worry that something was missing from my life and I had no idea what it was, which increased the feeling of vague but pervasive dissatisfaction.  Since the crash all that has changed and has stayed changed.  Quite surprising that.
When Facebook presents me with a picture that I posted a year ago from one hospital bed or another I am most reminded not of the physical difficulties and limitations of the time I spent in bed but I am reminded directly of the moment when I felt time had run out. August 31st that was, in the late afternoon  staring up at the sky helplessly floating away like a sentient balloon.
So strong was that wistful desire for more time I feel it again every time I am reminded of that afternoon on the road, staring at the sky pondering the very short time horizon ahead. And yet I don't view it with a familiar sense of rising panic, of dread even, but now for some reason I am at peace with it all and I know what  have to do. Now I have to live.
And that I guess is exactly it: I have to do, no longer is it enough to ponder, now is the time for doing and the future is opening up with a liberating sense of being on the right path, of knowing that I am headed in the right direction, at the right time, and with the right plan. Rationally speaking it is very odd to feel so serene about a future path my wife and I are going to embark upon, an open ended life in retirement. In late life you are supposed to be settled and secure. Our security lies in our liberation and that's not normal apparently. But there's Facebook, ready to remind me life is short, an ending is going to come and best get on with it while life and mobility and curiosity are flourishing in this fragile vessel we call our body.