58. Getting Injured

Good morning and welcome to your fifty-eighth meditation. It happens sometimes. You’re weeding the garden and that especially stubborn little plant, after much cajoling, finally, and suddenly, releases itself from the earth, sending you falling backward onto your wrist. You’re hiking and your foot doesn’t land flat on the ground and one side of your ankle is the unwilling recipient of your entire body weight. Or maybe you’re not doing much of anything, reaching up to get the cereal out of the cupboard, say, but that much-used tendon in your shoulder has simply had enough and gives way. There’s no doubt that getting injured is a setback. No one likes to be in pain, and it can be really frustrating suddenly being incapable of certain movements that before you had taken for granted. However, getting injured is simply part of living life, and it’s better that we accept that fact than to either live in fear or in regret of it.

Every time we do anything there is an element of risk involved. You leave your house in the morning trusting that the tree in your front yard won’t fall on you the second you’re out the door; and yet, it could happen. And if you think you’re safe inside the home, think again. The CDC tells us that around half of all injuries suffered by Americans occur in the home. So, although a rugby player might be significantly increasing their odds of injury compared to the average person, opting out of aggressive sports won’t save you. We all get injured.

And even if we may not welcome injury, there are some distinct benefits to getting hurt. One is a reminder that we are not invincible. Most of us spend so much of our lives taking our health for granted, and this is a wonderful privilege. However, getting injured is an opportunity to take a moment to be humbled by our own vulnerability, and to appreciate the incredible service our bodies offer us every day. A corollary of this is that injuries are our opportunity to witness the body’s incredible healing power in action. The fact that we can cut open our skin and our body, of its own accord, will direct all the necessary energy to healing and sealing up that wound is astonishing. In this respect, getting injured teaches us to be grateful for the seemingly miraculous power of our bodies, while also a reminder to respect their fragility. It is also a reminder to try to always be present. Many injuries occur due to distraction, and so serve as a warning regarding the potential consequences of an unfocussed mind. And since they tend to slow us down, physically, injuries afford us the chance to slow the mind down as well by way of meditation, which is precisely what a distracted mind requires. Finally, injuries make for a good story. Since we are all vulnerable humans, we are fascinated by the infinite ways that we can get hurt, and so are inherently interested in hearing about the injuries of others. And for this reason, an injury becomes something of a badge that we wear, even after it has healed. We are proud of our injuries. They are the sign that we have lived, that we have survived living, in our own unique way; and for this, we ought to be proud. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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