one thursday in april at the dojo, i was sparring against a very tall, much bigger guy than me. he reminds me of my brother due to his 6’6” height and his day job having something to do with technology. my left arm up against his right arm was no match, and my shoulder was suddenly out of its socket, and i was screaming, “my shoulder! sifu!!!” in spite of the intense pain, i had the presence of mind to know that if i could just get someone to put it back in, it would stop hurting. this is due to my experience with knee dislocation twice in the past. for those keeping score at home, knees hurt more, but i don’t recommend dislocating either one! as i was shouting for sifu, who couldn’t hear me on the other side of about 20 kids sparring in pairs, and i sat down on the mat, vaguely thinking that intentionally sitting would be better than falling. sifu’s wife, who had been sparring close by, was already behind me, putting my shoulder back in and i immediately stopped screaming and started drying my tears and calming my breathing… no more excruciating pain. we put ice on it right away, and she helped me get a sling for it before i even left the dojo that night. several of the kids came up to me individually later that evening and told me they hoped my shoulder would feel better fast, and gave me big smiles. quinn insisted on carrying both his bag and mine, and opening all doors for me when it was time for us to head home. by then i felt like i was in good spirits and drove with one arm the 3 minutes home.

when i got in the door and told rich, i found that i wasn’t in such great spirits after all, and the reality of what had happened started to set in a little bit. it was time to make dinner, to get ready for the next day at my ending job where hauling buckets full of water and fish was a common task, thinking about how to increase my hours of farm work (also with the buckets and the hauling!) to offset my upcoming unemployment, and i wasn’t even sure how i was going to take off my t-shirt.

luckily it was nacho night, and luckily, rich still remembers how to make them, and helped me with all of the parts requiring 2 hands. he gently chided me that i did not need to injure myself to get him to help in the kitchen. faced with tasks such as getting a glass of water (requiring one hand to hold the glass and one to press the dispenser) or washing dishes, i felt despair creep along the edges of my consciousness, but rich kept taking on whatever needed to be done that was normally in my realm, with good humor. in the end it reminded me to have gratitude for him being there to take up my slack, and for all of the ease with which i go through life with my two good hands. i knew that my arm would only temporarily be out of commission, and it gave me a new appreciation for all i take for granted on a daily basis.

the next morning, rich refreshed his memory on how to put someone else’s hair in a ponytail, something he may not have practiced in a couple of decades since his daughter learned to do her own. he also helped with the dresser drawer full of unmentionables and when i gave up on putting on socks, he put them on me as well. in sickness and in health, he’s who i want to grow old with, let me tell you.

i’m finally writing this post, that has been incubating for half a year, because of my recent visit with the dragonflies. looking back on a dragonfly post from 2010, some things stand out about my winged friends and what they may represent.

“maneuverability and movement, propulsion into new ways of being and doing”

 “transformations (they spend up to a couple of years in the mud as nymphs before they emerge and fly away!”

 “finding true vision; visualizing and manifesting positive outcomes”

 “seeing around things from different angles; seeing color and light”

i shared back in april that “for fun i looked up shoulder injury in louise hay’s you can heal your life, which i’ve found to be startlingly accurate every time i’ve referred to its hippie dippy master list. it did not disappoint: joint injuries represent changing directions in life and the ease with which we make those transitions.”

having gotten back on the karate mat, i am now a (technically lethal) purple belt. my employment ended around the same time as my belt promotion, and i relied on savings and farming income and rich’s stable employment for the summer, crossed my fingers and prayed for the couple of months we went without health insurance, and stayed incredibly busy getting ready for our wedding. shortly after our honeymoon, i was employed once more, in yet another tenuous, temporarily grant-funded position, with a different health insurance, different retirement, different contracting agency. this one will run out on me in the spring again, and i am not excelling at maneuverability and ease in these transitions. actually, i’m driving myself nuts listening to my own jaded complaints. i did a good job advocating for a 30 hour work week through april instead of a 40 hour work week through january, which is helping me be 3% more sane now that farming season is calming down. i guess i should be 25% more sane, i’m not sure where the other 22% goes in this equation. when i listen to my vulnerable inner thoughts, they whisper of essays, books, blog posts i’d like to be writing. but mixed up with those dreams there is so much self doubt. the repetitive blows to my ego of losing jobs in the career i’m still paying student loans on piles on more of that.

dislocated worker is an actual term for someone laid off, terminated, or in an otherwise tenuous employment situation because of natural, economic, or other causes that are out of their hands. being a dislocated worker happens to farmers, fishers, loggers, and others like them whose employment embodies a sense of place.

i’ve talked about having a sense of place, and it just so happens it was in that dragonfly post:

“as one who has left the place of my birth, and settled far away on a distant shore, i want to believe that i can nurture the same level of love for this land that i now inhabit, that i could have had if i had stayed put in rural central new york. i am not sure how that will go, but i am going for it, and i can already say that i love this place more than i could have imagined. at any rate, i am heartened by the little dragons of the air, who are born far away from where their parents were, and yet somehow know exactly where they are going and what to do. i am thinking that my inner dragons needed to grow some wings and take to the air… and i think somehow, i am going to know what i am supposed to do.”

that post was written almost 7 years ago! i can say that i have grown into this land, this place with some deep roots. my intention has remained steadfast to embrace this place, immerse in its local language, and tend the small pieces of which i have had the privilege to be steward. it’s not that i never feel homesickness for the farm in new york, and i recall around the time of my shoulder injury feeling a spring breeze coming through an open window that made me keenly aware of that longing… it’s that i would feel an aching longing for this land now, too, should i ever have to leave it.

meanwhile, i’m trying not to judge how much time i’m spending here in the mud, awaiting my emergence, and trying to trust that i will have clear vision of the way ahead once i transform.

1 comment to dislocated

  • Camp boss\ wedding boss

    I was just thinking it was time for a post like this.!!! Introspective and contemplative. It is that time of year when the post can tend to deepen a little. I guess its the dark and wet of our locale that does it to us.

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