I bruised my ankle while I was away.
Having taken only boots and a pair of runners on my trip, I had to forgo the boots because the next day there was a tree trunk where my ankle was supposed to be.
At one point I spent, like, twenty to ninety minutes in the darkest of night silently pondering what would happen if it was broken and I had to visit a foreign hospital explaining that it was all for the sake of a picture of a canoe. Not even a canoe, really, in the end, but of the water near it. At another point, I walked too far on it. I pushed it to its limits and it pushed me right back making me moody.
Sometimes, I made noises when putting on skinny jeans. Sometimes I make noises anyway, but these were mostly related to my ankle specifically. A week later, and it still hurts to lean on it but the pain is fading and with it the memory of my tumble off a boulder on a lake near Algonquin Park*
If you’re accompanying me anywhere, there comes a moment you realise that bruises, and cuts, and perhaps even a few splinters, are all just part of the package. Most of the time I limit them to myself.
But despite being the clumsiest person I know, I never learn.
I throw myself into things with just as much gusto as ever not because I enjoy the pain, or because I’m hard as nails. I do it because I’ve never considered the injuries to outweigh the results.
I had a great time when I was away. I stubbed my toes on a dock after tripping in a lake I was swimming in. I got splinters in my bum, discreetly removed in the depths of the forest, after sliding off a not so super smooth porch deck to go kick some maple leaves falling like raindrops to the dusty ground. I managed to cut my pinky on the boot shelf thing our rental car had. I bruised my knee, hard, on a handmade wooden bed and spent an afternoon trying not to bend it. I bit the inside of my mouth. I cut my big toe on something that left a really deep cut but I never caught what it was. And, of course, then there was the boulder incident **
I do not regret a single thing: not the inadvisable bum slide; not the coldest water in the northern hemisphere lake; and most certainly not the picture of water with a tiny bit of a canoe in it capturing the exact moment I fell off that boulder.
They say you can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs. I think the same is true for life, and writing. I think, like the bruises on my wrist, knee, and ankle, they’ll be injuries along the way to something great when you’re writing too. Maybe it will be an inexplicable gap, that you dare not talk about, when you can’t really write at all. Maybe it will come in the forms of long drawn out maybes and definite nos. Maybe the suspense of waiting for it will be the torture that bruises you.
But all I keep thinking is it’s never not been worth it.
I’ve never looked at a bruise inside or out and thought that I could do without the experience that came as a result of it (okay, apart from that one time I maybe put my pinky in a pencil sharpener because the draw of unknown was calling to my seven year old brain). I know that every mistake, bruise, cut, and splinter has gone someway to creating me. I know that every painstakingly rewritten paragraph, and injury to my pride, has gone someway to getting me here to this.
I hope one day to look back even further down the path and agree with my past self. Seeing how far I have come, and knowing how far I have yet to travel in the world of words.
I shared the pencil sharpener debacle, so what’s your most regrettable experiment? Also, I know you’re dying to see the photo captured during the boulder incident and honestly I’m happy to oblige. I give you: I Fell Off a Rock For This Photo, digital photo, 2015
* It’s possible I bruise too easily and this injury was slightly less dramatic than I am envisioning… at one point during our trip a toddler wafted his hands across my wrist on a bus ride to Niagara, squeezed the tiniest amount, and I had a painful hand shaped bruise the next day…
** I keep saying boulder but what you should probably keep in mind is that this boulder was maybe half a foot in diameter