I was not logged in for CMC worship on January 3. My intention to participate diminished at full tilt while my body was in full tilt before crashing in a full chin-plant on asphalt and ending a lovely, until that moment, morning run. That sound blast in my head was upper jaw smacking lower, so I was immediately gratified that neither fragments nor whole teeth met my sweeping tongue. My bearded chin, though, was (yes, this is a euphemism) “moist.” I walked home glad my mouth was intact and wondering what the mirror would show. “Moist” was a very accurate and neutral description and I was soon on my back being tended in a nearly-empty ER. 2021 started with my first running fall and first stitches. Getting that much novelty out of the way early suggested the rest of this year would probably be smooth.
The “smooth” lasted only a bit more than 72 hours.
Three days later was January 6, when we were shown hours of live images clarifying precisely and cleanly “who we are.” Among the swirl of thoughts scrabbling through my head that day, I recalled this from Clarence Darrow’s autobiography, The Story of My Life: “Every house has skeletons in its closet grinning and struggling to come out. It is doubtless better that they should be free and roaming in full light of day.” Better, yes, to see clearly what is true; I believe Donald Trump’s significant gift was calling forth and showing the white supremacy at our side that was otherwise obscure to most of us.
One could suppose that January’s two surprises for Dan would be sufficient. One would be wrong.
Ever since abruptly losing all hearing in my left ear in 1997, I’ve feared the same happening to my “good” ear. So when I felt a “fullness” there on January 18 I paid extra attention and wasn’t surprised, but increasingly disturbed, when low-tone hearing dropped off over several hours. The sleepless night ended (is this all, which I could adapt to, or is additional hearing loss to come?), my doctor submitted a prescription for oral steroids that I filled immediately and started, and by late morning I left the ENT office where a hearing test confirmed clinically what I knew and, with nothing else to do for this condition except hope the steroids could resolve nerve inflammation, drove home.
I intently exercised 12-Step stuff, acceptance, “would you rather be facing blindness or loss of limbs or quadriplegia?”, and patient waiting. By Wednesday evening I had calmed myself to sleep better, and Friday night I very happily realized I was again hearing in my bedroom the tick-tock of the kitchen clock. And when the 10-day steroid cycle was complete, I had normal hearing in that ear. The ENT confirmed that on Groundhog Day - January was DONE – and the next afternoon, with lovely, high-quality cold snow under blue sky, I was on my cross country skis at Alum Creek State Park. And three days later, with the same snow still crisp for skiing, I enjoyed with great additional delight the trails at Sharon Woods. Last year we had no skiable snow; the year before I had one marginal outing - I’ve learned “winter” no longer promises skiing in Columbus.
January of Winter 2021…challenging. February is still young but my chin is healed and intact, we are not under a dictatorship (yet; and I say that having experienced life under the Stroessner regime in Paraguay), I hear as well as I did a month ago, and a tangible hint of the future is the six varieties of pepper seeds in my germination “warm box.” None of that alters the truth that we never know what the morrow will bring.
However, I’m glad for what others who learned to live well share with the rest of us, including this:
We spend most of life going from doubt to doubt, from difficulty to difficulty, unlearning today what we thought we had finally mastered yesterday so that, if we’re lucky, we manage to stay young in heart and open to tomorrow. Joan Chittister, Heart of Flesh