“How’ve you been man?” Fucking Terrible. I mean, I almost died. What were you expecting? Sunshine and roses? Lets start over.
“How’s it going man!” Fucking fantastic! No seriously, it’s going fantastic… I’m not stored underground in a pine-box, I can pee by myself, and I claweded my way to the chains on “Rage” (5.12+) with only three takes this weekend! Although… upon reflection I have to admit, the pine box would’ve been significantly easier to afford. #ImNotBitter…..
“Where the hell have you been man!?” Now that’s an interesting question, and it has no short answer, but I’ll try: Yosemite, Dead, Texas, Mississippi, Not Dead, Georgia, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, and The Obed. Not bad for two months….
I haven’t written much lately. Or at least not anything worthwhile, I mean sure there were a couple knee-jerk posts that roughly amounted to mind-vomit while my brain attempted to clean itself out by purging the effects of its concussion and head trauma, but nothing I’ll really look back on with pride. The thing is that writing anything worthwhile requires a great deal of thought, and lately thought has been an uncomfortable activity for me. Firstly it’s been uncomfortable because thinking had become very difficult, head trauma will do that. Secondly thinking has become uncomfortable because of the thoughts which tend to surface while I think. When thinking is difficult, it takes a certain amount of extra effort to process your thoughts and string them together. It’s the kind of thing that’s hard not to notice, and so I wind up thinking about how hard it is to think, and then think thoughts like “I wonder how bad the brain damage is?” or “am I going to be stuck like this till I die?”
Those are really uncomfortable thoughts.
Additionally, I had essentially lost my ability to run on auto-pilot for a some time. Every action required deliberate thought . So I started thinking… worst case scenario, what do I do? If I will be stuck like this for the rest of my life, then what? Get on with it, that’s what. Fuck that, I’ve got shit to do. If the mind is slower, I just need to try harder. Begin with the basics. I began remembering all the meditative practices I’d read about and started to employ them on a daily basis in the moment. I had to, it was the only way I could string sentences together. Meditation, in essence, is simply bringing your mind to bear on a single input. But even so, all that thinking required throughout the day gave me little leftover energy for writing.
And no, I’m still not particularly adept at sitting down on a cushion and chanting “Om.” I’m distractable.
Thanks to the concussion, I’m deaf in my left ear so I’ve got fewer inputs to worry about. And more than that, thinking had become difficult to the point where processing multiple streams of information was too much to bother with. Dealing with groups of people was, to say the least, interesting. Single-pointed awareness was the only thing I had for a while, and so I brought it to bear on every situation I faced. I didn’t need to build a new habit of focused awareness, because my mind had been forced into a state of simplicity. Grabbing a coffee cup? No auto-pilot available? Great, so I pour thought into my head to think out where the cup is, coordinate my arm and fingers, and hope that my hands don’t drop the damn thing this time. The hope I was working on was to deliberately enter into challenging situations that required me to think hard to maintain control of my mind and body, perhaps that way I could regain my abilities by retraining good habits?
It worked. I’ve re-built a lot of my auto-pilot now.And I can almost walk straight, even if my limp is a bit more pronounced these days. And for that matter, I can’t seem to decide which leg to limp on anymore…
Emotionally it’s been a roller coaster, but I had the opportunity to watch myself freak-out as if it were in third person so it hurt less than it would have otherwise. I’ve been injured and recovered before, so I had a good idea what was around the corner. It’s hard to be surprised when you know what’s coming. Been there, done that, it’s old hat now. Except for those times when something new and surprising came along and threw me out down the rabit hole. Thanks for the support, I needed it.
And then, finally, my brain started showing signs of improvement, but thankfully the habit of awareness has remained. As far as my mind, the dust is settling, and I think I might wind up better off than I ever was in that regard. This habit of awareness during day-to-day interactions and actions is something I’ve tried to develop unsuccessfully for over a decade now. Turns out all I needed was an appropriate amount head trauma to knock some sense into me. Who knew it would be that simple? Hopefully I can make it stick.
PS: Actually, for the first time in known history I managed to onsight the approach trail to a new crag this weekend. I might actually be walking straighter now! I didn’t fall over even once!
PPS: I tried writing again last week as well, and it came out to over 5,000 words, and that’s so long I didn’t even want to read it, so I’m pulling the pertinent bits out for several separate posts. The mind is clearer now, and I’ll post more as it comes, but I’m not holding myself to any sort of schedule.