I turned my ankle walking in the park the other day, which is good going for someone who used to hike at every opportunity and now, in lockdown, barely gets more than a block from his house.
It hurt a little, but the more notable thing is that it revived some memories.
Ten years ago, I broke my leg quite badly. It required surgery, and they screwed the bone back together with bits of metal.
It never really gives me problems these days, but any injury to the same leg gets me wondering and even worrying: Have I done something to the screws? Am I going to have to go through all of that again?
I dealt with my park injury as I usually would, but the real problem was the sensation of “having done something to my leg”. Every bit of sensory information coming from that part of my body now goes through the lens of history, memory, and emotion. Does it feel weird? Does it feel different? Is there a problem there? I have to try and separate out my historic feelings from the present experience – not rejecting them, but recognising them for what they are.
Pain is a great source of information, if only you know how to process it.
The great choreographer Twyla Tharp wrote that:
“The dancer learns early to take pain for granted and that there is great freedom in choosing how to respond to its appearance. The thing NOT to do is deny pain. It must be acknowledged. Sometimes the right way of moving forward will be to push through pain. Your choices determine who you will be, who the world will see[.]”Read more