Two Knees & Life. . .
Todays Guest post by Steven Beyer
After years of competitive sports, I suppose I was not surprised to learn that I needed my knees replaced, I didn’t know, however, that realizing a new perspective on life would come with that…. compliments of my experience recovering from bilateral total knee replacement surgery. The new knees and the physical challenge ahead I anticipated, the expanded view on life, I did not.
The battle against scar tissue and to gain flexibility is intense to say the least.The strain of each moment and each movement “expands the mind” in a way that encourages deep introspection. I discovered this in a most profound way during my recent rehab from knee replacement surgery.
One of the key points, life lessons, universal truths or whatever you wish to call it rang loud and clear to me, “If you ain’t got your health, you ain’t got nothing.” Suffice it to say, that every day basic life skills like getting up out of a chair or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night became incredibly difficult without the physicality to perform those tasks. The challenge of trying to put your shoes on without assistance when you’ve been doing it since you were 3 years old is humbling to say the least, but an urgent reminder of the importance of good health. More important, is the realization of the enormous power health issues can have over you. Taking the time to consider this I was motivated to work hard daily.
Secondly, slow down! I mean NOW. We travel through life in a blur; one thing to the next, always thinking about the NEXT moment and not really living in the now. Living fully in the moment was thrust upon me the second I awoke from surgery. Each moment, each movement required extra effort and concentration. Having to focus fully just to be able to swing my legs onto the floor or making sure the steps I take are engaging the correct muscles and that my posture is upright. Like a two year old learning to walk again, balancing and moving forward takes total mind body presence. This is the type of presence zen and yoga masters speak about when practicing their art. Slowing down and having full awareness of each moment. This became necessary when each moment required my full attention, like the two year old taking his first steps. I no longer had a choice as to how to spend each moment. Living in the moment is a gift that I was reminded of with each relearned movement I attempted. I hope to carry this forward into my “fully healed” future.
Thirdly, allow and encourage the help of others. I have always been the kind of person who “took care of things”, so this was not as easy as it sounds. Most people like to think of themselves as independent and of course mobile. I was limited in both areas. When your friends offers to mow your lawn or people keep bringing you food, let them, thank them and relax. Accept their offerings because this is what community is supposed to be all about. This is the “secret” to contentment as per the Dalai LLama himself. He states, “The more we are concerned about the happiness of others, the more we are building our own happiness at the same time.” Giving to others, being of service to others IS man’s purpose on earth. This empowers anyone and strengthens everyone at the same time. What greater good could there be? So let them help.
Lastly, Be kind to yourself. Spending much more time with yourself can be tough. No job to drive to, no gym to stop by and no ability to get there meant many conscious hours with just me, myself and I. My decision not to turn on the television was wise, and gave me space to examine my life, my way and my spirit. I read, I wrote and spent valuable time doing nothing but sitting and listening to the early morning birds, or my wind chimes blowing in a summer breeze while savoring my morning tea. This became in many ways my favorite part of the entire day, just sitting. I learned to enjoy this time with myself, and took a silent vow to always continue to seek moments of solitude throughout my life. The value of this time is immeasurable to the human spirit and soul. It certainly opened the door to enable me to write this piece.
My experience has taught me to slow down and appreciate the moment, accept the help of others and cherish those special opportunities of spending quiet time with myself each and every day.
Be well… Steven Beyer
Steven Beyer is an amateur writer and a 7th grade middle school teacher who lives and teaches in Mt Laurel New Jersey. He recently underwent bi-lateral knee replacement surgery and spent half of his summer off between school years rehabilitating.
Artwork “Sleeping Buddha” Provided By: Steve Young and Wife in Angor Wat, Cambodia