"After all, to think and feel and love more freely is the point of life." — Deborah Levy
I've taken to drinking martinis because my boyfriend drinks martinis. We order them dirty, with vodka, not gin. Drinking a dirty martini is like drinking a snack that makes you want to talk over people. It's like disinfecting your whole mouth and throat and getting quite drunk as a reward. All of this is to say I drank three or four martinis, and then on my walk home, I sprained my ankle.
The thing about spraining your ankle (or any body part) is that you must immediately stop using said body part. You must swiftly put this body part on vacation mode and all of its many tasks must be delegated elsewhere. This beloved body part must be treated with care, and it must be babied. We do all of this to fully recover and regain mobility. We do all of this because things that can be hurt are also things that can heal.
If I'm belabouring the very obvious here, it's only because I recently realised how rarely I take care of my stressed albeit not sprained brain. If these couple of years have been anything, they have been an injury to ourselves, our sense of self, the world, our collective and personal futures. What was once able to move freely is now pained and difficult. However, the discomfort reminds us that we were once freer and soon (hopefully) we will be again.
So, what are the ways we can take care of ourselves and each other in the meantime? I'm still trying to discern, but I do know, as I knew when my ankle was propped up on the couch, that what hurts also instructs. And so, if we can take the long view and see that today's pains lead the way to tomorrow's pleasures, then we can reimagine our relationship with pain and see it for what it is: a sign that pleasure is on the way. The crucial caveat being; only if you make it so. This requires acknowledging the often-uncomfortable reality, saying no when you should, even when it's difficult, and saying yes when you should, even when it's scary. This requires that we rest in the wisdom that you can only give what you've got, and what you've got is yours to share on your own terms.
My ankle has now healed, but when I jump I can still feel a little pinch that reminds me to take care, and I welcome the reminder because we could all do with a little more care a little more often.