Last night my husband and I watched the third film in a trilogy that began with Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, concluding with Before Midnight, a penetrating glimpse into the relationship between a man and a woman, over the course of two decades. The two originally meet on a train traveling through Europe, where they begin a conversation.
Besides our family relationships, so many of our relationships begin with a conversation and whether that conversation continues depends on the choices we make at every moment. Who do we include or exclude from our lives? Which path, which job, which passion do we explore, pursue, let go of? There are so many twists and turns and possibilities that we are offered every day, whether we choose to see them or blind ourselves to the trajectory that society urges us to take. Can we see where and how deeply connected we are to our culture and the people in our lives or are we painfully aware of that which separates us? Do we cherish or condemn the world, ourselves, those we are supposed to love, the mirrors that reflect who we are in an ever-changing, yet profoundly present now.
I have worn many hats and played many roles in the course of my life. Within an ever-changing body, there is still a young spirit continually awed that people judge me by my superficial age and appearance. I do feel fortunate that my husband of nearly twenty-five years seems to love me, despite my body. Of course, there was a time, and the initial spark to our romance still flames, when we both were young, strong, passionate and beautiful. We each can see beauty in one another’s eyes and form, despite the gray hairs, the wrinkles, the extra pounds, the loss of hair, the wounds.
I am glad to be alive, but there was a moment, last fall, when I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place where we were, at sunrise, with the moon still in the sky, and I tried to capture that moment, that place, in a photograph. I took a risk and stepped out on a ledge and in the process of framing that photograph, I lost my balance. I fell. I toppled backwards and down onto a stone staircase. I cried out in pain and my husband came to my rescue. He always does. The damage, however, was severe. He got me to a doctor, two hospitals, the airport, and to Singapore, and a hospital, capable of replacing the shattered arm with a reverse total shoulder replacement. Certainly that experience was one of the most traumatic things that ever happened to me, and I still feel a great sense of loss, since I will never have the full range of motion with my arm and the surgeon told me last Thursday that I should never try to lift more than fifteen pounds with my right arm for the rest of my life. Since I am used to intense physical activity and lifting weights all the time, for my activism, and just cooking and household chores, the prognosis is very sobering and means that I need to figure out what I can and cannot do. The healing process is long and painful and will take probably a year. I remember waking up to a dream in which I was falling and being electrocuted at the same time, thinking, “Oh this is it. You’ve really done it. You’re dead now.” I am glad that I did wake up, that I am still alive, despite the pain. I’m glad the pain is diminishing and my tolerance for pain is increasing.
What I do have is a much deeper sense of appreciation for the good things in life, the power of the moment, the little things, however transitory, that mean so much, that express love and bring joy. I may not have the strength and energy to continue the fight against imperialism, endless war, a rapacious monetary system, but I can find the energy to simply love and encourage the kindness and good which I encounter in every moment with everyone I meet, see, think of, hear from.
I know that I have neglected this website, my mail, far too long, and I hope that I will be able to catch up with it. This is my explanation for my long silence.
*The photograph is of the infinity pool at sunrise, in Bali, facing east, before I tried to capture the image of the moon from the ledge where I fell, a few minutes later, between the pool and the ocean when I was facing the west.