Unexpected Blessings

There is a LIGHT in this world. A healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, and too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.  —Richard Attenborough

W hen was the last time you found yourself physically limited? So limited, that you required another person to help you get through your day(s)? As I write this, I am living in that place. Last week, I underwent surgery for a total hip replacement; the unfortunate result of shallow hip sockets and an active lifestyle. It has been a surprising blessing.

I have no recollection of ever having been this limited or this dependent. Three days into my recovery, the pain, swelling, and slowness are very much present but the blessings of the experience have greatly overshadowed the discomforts.

Blessing Number One – Time

My wife, Sally, and I have not left our house since my release three days ago. We have had a great time! Yes, she’s been taking care of me and I’m sure that gets tedious. However, our entertainment has consisted of hours of talking, reading to one another, working through my daily exercises, and simply hanging out together. Every night has been a slumber party in our living room as I lay on the couch and she on the air mattress – like two kids talking into the night. No TV. No radio. No talk shows. No distractions. What a gift!

Blessing Number Two – Simplicity

My current limitations have brought me to a distinct level of simplicity in my daily routine. Movement is difficult and requires a walker or crutches. I’m moving within a limited area – our main floor. There is nowhere I need to be. No trips to the store. No errands to be run. No commitments. The simplicity is refreshing. This dialing-down has the effect of narrowing one’s focus and allowing the appreciation of the minute. Victories are measured in inches and the confinement only heightens the sense of the simple. In this moment, simplicity is a beautiful thing.

Blessing Number Three – Dependency

I’ve discovered that I’m fiercely independent. More specifically, that I go to great lengths to take care of things myself. In general, this is a good trait. However, when we are fiercely independent, we don’t give others the opportunity to help us. For many of us, this means that we end up not being very good receivers of generosity. When someone does something for us, we almost feel resentful because we should or could have done it for ourselves. Or, perhaps we just hate putting anyone out on our behalf. This week, I have been incapable of taking care of myself by myself. What I thought would be a humbling experience has been profoundly gratifying as I’ve experienced the generosity of Sally and others along this journey.

Blessing Number Four – The Flywheel

I’ve spent the last four weeks trying to “tie up loose ends” in anticipation of my surgery. Looking at my calendar, it appears that the world ended on January 31st. But it didn’t. No matter how much I tried to anticipate potentialities, my preparations have still fallen short. Yet, the show still goes on. It has been amazing to watch our team manage in my absence. I’ve written of getting the “flywheel” spinning so its momentum carries things forward in the absence of my direct effort. The flywheel is definitely spinning as I watch my team step up and move things forward independently of me. It is inspiring and gratifying to see it unfold.

Blessing Number Five – Conversations

Another surprising blessing from this experience has been a general change in the context of my conversations with others. When we step out of our working world and into the very intimate world of our health and well-being, the rules change. Cursory conversations take a different direction as concern or compassion emerge. New stories appear as others share their travails and you begin to realize that you are not alone on this path. Interactions shift from the transactional to the emotional and take on a new depth. Not every interaction or conversation; just the ones that truly matter.

I’m certain other blessings will emerge. So far, the journey has been surreal and full of surprises. Sitting here this morning, I can only feel gratitude for the many blessings of this experience. Sure, the darkness of pain and suffering lines the edges but the heart of my experience has been bright and hopeful. I started down this path hoping for a solution to a painful hip. In just a few days, I’m still hopeful for that solution, but I’ve already found so much more.


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