It’s A Joint Project

This Thursday I am having surgery on my right hand. It’s almost shorter to list what I am not having done! Three for one surgery: carpal tunnel, rebuilding the joint at the base of my thumb and cutting some cords that are causing contractures. I will then be wearing a bandage /splint like a thick boxing glove for a couple of weeks. Basically I won’t have the use of my right hand for several weeks and, of course I am right handed. Really sucks actually, but will be worth it in the long run to get my right hand working well for the many years I have left. So its one of those things you do that will be a pain in the short term, but you do it for  long term positive results. I prefer instant gratification myself! 

There’s a lot of positive outcomes that require work, being uncomfortable for a time and a determination to do what it takes to reach the positive outcomes. We’ve all heard the idiom ‘No pain, no gain.” The idiom “no pain, no gain” means to make an effort in order to get the desired result. It speaks of the importance of making an effort in general and we can use it when referring to the necessary suffering a person must endure to achieve their ultimate goal.  No offense to the men out there, but “No pain,No gain” was brought into popular usage by Jane Fonda in 1982. Y’all remember her second coming as a fitness guru and the leg warmers. We all had her videos to help us “whip” our bodies into shape, hence no pain no gain. The use of “whip” is another usage where pain is seen as a necessary part of reaching a goal. It certainly seems  there is a strong consensus that good outcomes don’t come without paying our dues. All things we pursue in life have a cost. I don’t think “no pain, no gain,” is nuanced enough, so I like the concept of “costs” and “benefits” because they can be more quantifiable.

This is what worries me: What if we spend 90% of our lives paying the costs to get to the benefits we’ve earned, and only get to enjoy the benefits 10% of our lifetime? I don’t want to be always striving, and as a consequence, squander the precious moments of my life with no guarantee that the costs I am paying will even be enough. We’re also told ”Easy come, easy go.” I always thought this meant that all good things needed to be next to impossible or very difficult to achieve, so they would not be lost easily.  If I’m not suffering then I’m not doing it right. If love comes too easy, does that mean losing that love will be easy too? My son does not have to “work hard” to get my love, I give it to him freely and easily with no expiration date. So there’s some flaws in the “Easy come, easy go.” axiom.

We frequently say “Take it easy.” to friends and acquaintances as part of saying good-bye. Take it easy means to  “proceed calmly and in a relaxed manner (or) to make little effort; rest.” How the hell are we going to take it easy if it takes immense effort, even pain to get what, who or where we want to be? It’s like telling your dog to “Come, stay.” At this point in my life I’m more inclined to go “easy”, to focus more on what is attainable without pain. Acceptance of who I am, and knowing how little I actually have control over, really clarifies and narrows what costs I am willing to pay. I’m people-pleasing a lot less, so there are fewer voices in my head telling me what I must be working towards.  So I wish that I wasn’t facing some short term pain from hand surgery, but this is one case where I accept “No pain, no gain.”, and I am choosing to go ahead. After surgery I fully intend to “Take it easy.”

The Red-tailed Hawk

I’m hungry, but I don’t have anything in the fridge I want to eat. I have options. I can go to the grocery store and get groceries and make something to eat, I can order out and wait for Door Dash to deliver a meal or I can go out to eat. Of course, I can just stay hungry and not do anything to address my hunger now. After all I’m supposedly the top of the food chain.There are starving people who will die of hunger today, but by the grace of God I am not one of them. 

Why is the title of this post The Red-tailed Hawk? Hawks get hungry too and they need to find food to eat to stay alive. Sometimes that food is fresh road kill and its in the middle of a busy street. Then what?  Door Dash? No. Risk your life to fly to the squirrel’s body in the middle of the street and swoop it up in your talons and fly away? Yes. I first sighted the large hawk in the street sitting near the squirrel’s body. Oh, oh! Cars were coming, and I managed to flag the first car to slow down and shooed the hawk out of the road, but it didn’t go far and perched on a power box a few feet from the street.  As if posing for a photo op, the hawk patiently allowed me and several other bystanders to take  photos. We all knew this was a rare opportunity  to see this hawk up close. Seeking a bit more distance, the hawk flew up to perch on a fence that was still pretty close to the street.

I waited and waited for the hawk to make it’s move to retrieve the squirrel, but stubbornly he just sat and watched the humans staring at him. Reluctantly, I moved on to finish my walk. Of course, I was curious to see the progress of the hawk,  so I circled back at the end of my walk.  Ta Da! The hawk was sitting close to the fence with the squirrel carcass in it’s talons. I watched him fly off with his meal and I wanted to applaud him.  Instead, I sent good vibes and my respect for a job well done. I was grateful that I was able to witness the hawk, and I felt hope and reverence.

I can not send this post without talking about my deep respect for the Ukrainian people and President Zelensky. They are inspiring the world with their courage and zeal to save their democracy. I am in awe of their courage. Do we have the courage to save our democracy? The tanks aren’t rolling in and missiles aren’t hitting their marks, but make no mistake, our democracy is at stake. Voting rights in peril, our history being twisted to support white nationalism, and a former President who would like to stay in power for life, even when the people voted him out of office. The Russian people do not have the right to vote for their leader, their votes don’t count and any dissenters are jailed or murdered. In America, the armed insurrection on January 6, 2020 intended to stop a democratic act of Congress. This is not the path to establishing a “more perfect union”. No one in their right mind, would say that Putin is a “genius”, or attempt to withhold military aid to Ukraine in exchange for “dirt” on a political opponent.  THINK!

I want to believe that “We the people” will rise up as the Ukrainian people have done, and stand up to those who would destroy our democracy. We can be tough and refuse to give up like the red-tailed hawk.  I hope we will make this choice.