The upside of hip fractures

I’m just back from a ski trip to Crested Butte, Colorado, with family and friends, and thought I’d post this excerpt from my first collection of essays about practicing A Course in Miracles unique forgiveness, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness. Written five years ago on another New Year’s trip to Crested Butte, it reflects where I was at the time in my evolving understanding of the Course’s teaching that we are not many separated bodies vying for survival in an apparent world of other bodies, but one, decision-making mind. Although I’m not sure I completely understood this at the time, the injury described here turned out to be an important step in learning that all healing is only in the mind. That’s where the idea of bodies began and will inevitably end, in happy recognition that our undifferentiated wholeness has never, and could never, be compromised. 🙂

Crested Buttte SusanThere is a story; of course, in the ego’s world there is always a story. Practicing A Course in Miracles, we begin to understand that our story that looks so uniquely tragic or hopeful nonetheless always springs from that same old story. In the original fiction, we have bought the idea that we have run away from the source of our wholeness, and find ourselves at large in our bodies in a world the ego mind created to both reflect and protect us from God’s punishment for the crime of separation. In our effort to prove we have pulled off the impossible sin of individuality, while avoiding retribution, we project our repressed guilt on to other bodies or, sometimes, our own.

This particular version of the one story began on New Year’s morning, 2009, in the idyllic Victorian town of Crested Butte, Colorado, mid-way through a ski vacation with family and friends. I had skied for four days on a pair of sweet, new K-2s. Even though I had reverted to Eastern Standard Time to ring in the New Year the night before to accommodate my lark (over night-owl) tendencies, I was tired. As my family and friends headed out to the mountain under a milky sky to a day that promised the kind of icy conditions and flat light I found especially trying, I begged off. I had been interacting with other people non-stop for five days. A self-declared introvert, I need chunks of time alone to replenish the energy spending long periods with others tends to deplete. That, too, is part of the story of Susan, a story I was about to illuminate in a new way with help from my inner teacher.

Here’s the bottom line. I believed I could only find my inner teacher, my connection with the divine, the voice for love, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, my right mind, whatever you want to call it, alone. This is particularly amusing given the fact that I had been studying A Course in Miracles for five years, reading the text, doing the workbook lessons designed to help us apply its principles in our lives, attending and teaching classes, and yet still somehow managed to miss the entire point!

Unlike many worthy spiritual paths that also lead to awakening but had not worked for me, this path urges us to heal the belief in autonomy at the root of our suffering through our relationships. We don’t do that by sitting on a mountaintop, cross-legged, with our eyes closed, and our fingers pinched together. The silence we are asked to enter within has nothing to do with what appears without. We are asked to enter the silent part of our mind that remembers that the person sitting across the dinner table or chatting on the ski lift is actually the outlet provided to reestablish the divine connection we believe we severed. I heal my mind by seeing that the teenager glaring up at me, as I set a glass of juice before her, is not the problem; my belief in the original story of separation is the problem, but I can choose again with the help of the loving presence in my mind to remember that we are one.

But that morning I apparently needed a little review. I bid my friends and family farewell and decided to go ice-skating; one of the solitary pursuits I believed had helped me connect with the divine, in the past. Walking over to the public, outdoor rink through the hushed streets, I indulged a fantasy of Jesus walking beside me. But once I put on the ill-fitting rental skates, Jesus made a run for it. I had worn my lightweight ski socks and my bony ankles chafed against the cheap leather. Time and time again I came off the ice to re-lace the skates, stuffing tissues over the hot spots, then forging out once more to see if I could flag Jesus down.

Some local ’tweens playing hockey with someone’s glove nearly toppled me several times. Still, I persevered for almost an hour. Striving to reestablish my connection, distracted by the throbbing in my ankles and the annoyance of dodging ill-mannered children, whose hung-over parents sat in the bleachers cheering them on, the blurry sense of Jesus in my peripheral vision never materialized. Defeated, I returned the skates and headed down the icy, still largely deserted streets to the grocery store hoping to find some over-the-counter sinus medication to ease the pressure settling in under my eyes. I would go snow shoeing maybe; that always helped me connect.

The local grocery store looked like it had been looted following a summer blackout in Manhattan, its shelves largely empty and ransacked, drifts of confetti swept into a corner of the Linoleum floor. A boy with stringy hair and blood-shot eyes—a snow boarder, or “shredder” as we not so fondly called them— said he had no idea when fresh supplies might arrive over Monarch Pass. “Hey, we’re lucky I showed up,” he said. “It’s New Year’s, man.”

I hurried outside, and had gone maybe 200 yards when I wiped out, my legs thrown in one direction, the rest of me catapulted in the other. I landed hard on my hip, and bounced. I don’t know if I had ever felt so alone. In that instant of a pain so excruciating that I could not pull air into my lungs, a terror gripped me, almost immediately followed by outrage. I glanced over my shoulder, half expecting to find the person who had surely pushed me, the shredder, maybe, or one of his kind. I didn’t see anyone, of course. But I did feel the presence I had been seeking all morning, the presence of my inner teacher, the clear-eyed gentleness of Jesus. In that moment of complete surrender, I could almost see him holding up his hands as if to say; it wasn’t me. As if to remind me who had chosen this; and to promise me he would help me see why if I would allow him.

A stricken looking woman in an SUV stopped and rolled down her window. “Don’t move,” she said. “I’ll be right there.” Several good Samaritans stood fretting over me. Did I need the EMTs? No. If I could just get up, walk on it; I would be all right, I insisted. They helped me up, and offered me a ride I refused. I sat for a while on a metal chair beside an old yellow dog that rested his muzzle on my knee. After a while, I dragged myself several blocks back to Elk Avenue, taking baby steps on the slick sidewalks, through tunnels of plowed and shoveled snow, my mittened hands pressed against the glass of store fronts selling books and high-end pottery, jewelry, and kitchenware for balance, my favorite little prayer playing in my head: help me, help me, help me.

Eight blocks later, back at the rental, I peeled off my ski pants, filled a plastic bag with ice, popped some ibuprofen, and grabbed the Course, asking my inner teacher to show me what I needed to know. I opened the book to Chapter 21, II. The Responsibility for Sight:

“This is the only thing you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see. 

I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the 

goal I would achieve. 

And everything that seems to happen to me 

I ask for, and receive as I have asked. 

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.”

As in the instant when my body hit the ground, I saw that I had created this; that I had already been feeling unfairly treated; my peace somehow jeopardized by these others. The fall merely reflected a belief in my victimization. Although my ego mind raced forward wondering what would happen if I had really damaged this body, how I would make it to scheduled client meetings, get my daughter to all her activities, rewrite my novel, and launch this blog; the presence of my inner teacher helped me accept responsibility for my mistaken projection. As I did, I understood that this was all in my best interest. However it played out, I would be okay. The truth in me had nothing to do with another installment in the adventures of Susan’s body. The truth in me could not be threatened, broken, or destroyed. As I picked up the phone to call my husband, a part of me had to smile because I had finally gotten the quality time with Jesus I craved.

That connection with the awakened mind we all share has not gone away. In the weeks that followed, confined to crutches or a walker, my husband and daughter and friends stepped up to care for me in ways I never would have otherwise allowed, and a funny thing happened. As my relationship with them became less identified with the rigid roles I had scripted for us and I allowed myself to receive their love in whatever ways they offered it, my connection with my inner teacher continued to strengthen. It did not go away when my husband entered my office and began talking to me while I was writing or on the phone. It did not go away when my daughter lay on the couch watching a reality TV program involving wealthy, potty-mouthed teenagers I sometimes longed to kidnap and reform. It did not go away when clients changed their mind about what they wanted from me several times an hour. It did not go away when I studied the crumbs and dust accumulating on the hardwood floors I could not manage to sweep one-handed.

It did not go away because it can’t go away. It can’t go away because it never left me. It never left me because I never left it. I learned from my hip fracture that I really don’t want to be alone ever again, even though I might sometimes need to close my office door to finish a project, or take yoga class or meditate to clear my busy mind. I want to be in constant relationship with my inner teacher, the only real relationship available. When I forget it is there, I find it again by listening to the terrible loneliness of my belief in separation, the loneliness I begin to recognize and heal when I truly and with complete attention begin to listen to you.

8 reasons to make merry 

I can only look back in gratitude at a few of the unexpected perks of the last few weeks:

I got to be right. I just knew something was broken despite the ER doc in Crested Butte’s X-ray, the X-rays at Kaiser (medical center), and the orthopedist and physician assistant’s advice to resume my regular activities, pain permitting; which caused me to work out on the Nordic track and take a few excruciating spins on stationery bicycles on a broken hip, for crying out loud. But at least I got to be right. Better right than happy, my ego always says.

Crutches with crampons. I am not making this up. I got these crutches in Crested Butte. At the scene of the crime, dude, so to speak; just in case I decided to climb a fourteener, or something. Or felt like slipping off the Course wagon for the duration of my recovery and whacking somebody who has just taken the last close-in parking space at the grocery store upside the head. (Of course, my doctor had given me a form to apply for handicapped parking but you have to show up in person at Motor Vehicles on crutches to get it, which must be listed somewhere in the Divine Comedy as a separate circle of hell.)

Husbands and children remember how to cook. When the doctors at Kaiser finally discovered I had a fracture, three weeks into this little journey in forgiving my belief in the body, and told me I had to stay completely off my leg or risk emergency surgery, my husband and daughter threw a little impromptu fondue party. They trashed the kitchen and used every dish in the house,

but managed to clean up. Mostly, except for the counters and floor. But I’m not seeing that well these days either, so what the heck. As long as I keep my socks on, I’m chill. (My daughter hates it when I say that.)

Racing around on hardwood floors in your walker. This is actually a lot more fun than you might think. I go from my office to the kitchen to the foyer and back again hundreds of times a day. I call the hall between my office and the kitchen the Panama Canal because of the tight fit. The walker has a little drawer in case you want to pack a lunch or something, and a seat in case you’re felled by the sudden onset of depression. It has brakes too, should you get going too fast or decide to take it down a big hill. I took it outside once but the wheels are puny. (I wonder if you can get mountain bike tires?) So I just keep racing around inside. I dream of one day making it to the living room and the television set but that big step down continues to thwart me. Anyway, that’s why God made crutches. Okay, maybe not God. Who did invent crutches anyway? Couldn’t they come up with something better after all these years?

The bozo horn on my cane. I’m not sure you call it a cane. I’m not sure what to call it. My husband came home with this device that has a four-pronged base and a curved handle. His employees gave it to him for his fiftieth birthday. It has a little Bozo the Clown horn to cheer you up or frighten small children. It reminds me of something the dirty old man in the old Laugh-In show might carry. I am dating myself. Really, I was just a little kid when that show came out. I am not even close to being ready for something like this. Not even in private. OK, maybe the horn. Just forget about it. 

Someone else gets to take out the garbage and recycling. My family members look at me the way I used to look at the Holy Spirit when I first started the Course, as if at some kind of stinking Fairy Godmother, in this case a trash fairy who visits in the middle of the night to rid the house of unsightly debris. Fairy’s on vacation people—your turn!

People carrying things for you. When I am with my friends and family, they carry things for me—my purse, my books, my shopping bags. They dote on me and even appear to agree with me more, interrupt less, etc. This may be the closest I will ever come to testing the life of the royals. I could get used to it, really.

Small children think you’re a robot. I was in Starbucks on the macho crutches the other day and these two little kids were absolutely taken with my hardware. I made robot faces at them, and they hid behind their mother’s legs.

Here’s another ACIM hangout video with my friend Bruce Rawles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yogj9ckTXbc&feature=youtu.be . In this one, we talk about our love for our teacher Ken Wapnick, a demonstration of kindness to one and all, and how we can honor his life and heal our minds by living all he has taught us!

Here’s the announcement from the Foundation for A Course in Miracles inviting us to remember our beloved teacher, Kenneth Wapnick, if it feels right:

Kenneth Wapnick Tributes

After much contemplation and discussion, Gloria Wapnick and the Foundation Staff have decided that a public memorial would not be in keeping with Kenneth’s wishes. Those of you who knew him well know that he was a very unassuming man. He would want people’s focus to be on living and practicing A Course in Miracles rather than on memorializing him. In addition, the Foundation is restricted in the number of people it can accommodate, so limiting attendance or holding the memorial at a location other than Kenneth’s “home” is unthinkable.

At the same time, we understand the need a person has to be able to express their gratitude and respect to someone they admired and loved. To this end, we invite you to write a tribute to Kenneth in your own way, with the express understanding that all or part of your tribute may be printed in the March 2014 Lighthouse newsletter and/or posted on an upcoming Kenneth Wapnick Tributes page on our Website. If you do not want to be named as the author of your tribute, please indicate so in your typed letter.

In order to meet our publishing deadline, please have your letters mailed (no emails, please) to the Foundation no later than February 14, 2014. You may send your tribute (typed only) to:

Kenneth Wapnick Tributes • Foundation for A Course in Miracles • 41397 Buecking Dr • Temecula CA 92590-5668

HALF-HOUR MENTORING SESSIONS NOW AVAILABLE: Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally sane and loving right mind, mentoring can help remind Course students having trouble applying its unique forgiveness that the problem and the solution never lie in the difficult relationship, situation, behavior, health issue, etc., but in the decision-making mind. In every circumstance, without exception, we can experience inner peace and kindness toward all, unaffected by the seemingly random strife of a world designed to prove otherwise. By choosing to look at our lives as a classroom in which we bring all our painful illusions to the inner teacher of forgiveness who knows only our shared innocence beyond all its deceptive disguises, we learn to identify and transcend the ego’s resistance, hold others harmless, and gently allow our split mind to heal. One-on-one, hour or half-hour mentoring sessions are conducted via traditional phone or Skype (your choice). Please contact me to find out if mentoring is right for you before submitting a payment below. (No one is ever turned away for lack of ability to pay.)

I’m making some exciting new changes to my Tuesday-night forgiveness class, designed to deepen our study and practice and accelerate our learning in the New Year! (PLEASE SEE THIS SITE’S CLASSES/EVENTS PAGE FOR DETAILS.) We’ll begin 2014 by embracing true prayer, forgiveness, and healing as described in The Song of Prayer pamphlet (pamphlets available for purchase from the RMMC or already included within the most recent edition of A Course in Miracles). The Song of Prayer was scribed by Helen Schucman following the Course’s publication and helps clarify misunderstandings about its non-dualistic metaphysics. Our classes on this topic will conclude each week with an optional 20-minute true-prayer session.

We’ll devote the rest of the year to opening to the text, chronologically, from the heart, through selected readings, occasionally augmented by complementary workbook lessons and/or selections from the Manual, pamphlets, and recordings by premier Course Teacher, Author, and Scholar Kenneth Wapnick. Each week will conclude with an optional, 20-minute question and answer/comment/sharing session.

My latest book, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle versions. If you read and find the book helpful, I would so appreciate you posting a brief (a sentence or two is fine) review on Amazon. 🙂

Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want is also available at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center in Denver, Colorado, where I teach weekly on Tuesday nights, takes up roughly where my last ACIM essay collection left off, and conveys my growing faith that no matter how wrenching, wild, or wacky the dream of our lives may appear, we always have a choice about which inner teacher we are looking and listening with: the ego, the part of our mind that believed the “tiny, mad idea” of separation from our source had real effects. Or the “right mind” that remembered to gently smile at the bizarre thought of it. If you’re thinking about buying a book and live in Denver, please consider purchasing a copy from the RMMC to help support their great work.  Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and my previous book, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, are now also available from the ACIM Store: http://www.acimstore.com/default.asp.

 

Comments

  1. Your timing is uncanny, Susan… Upon noticing the unseasonably pleasant weather this afternoon – and the conspicuous lull in traffic and outdoor activity; I wonder why (a local outbreak of Bronco-itis, perhaps? – grin) – I participated in a bit of unintentional (consciously at least) ice-skating walking on a slippery patch in the shade of the Mitchell Creek Canyon Trail a few minutes walk from our front door. Moments after marveling (with my usual Ken Wapnick in the blue-tooth headphones) about his profound comments about how we substitute idols (such as sports figures … or in my case, the idolatry of a little fresh air exercise) for the peace of God – I managed to land on my left arm in a sudden whoops! experience that resulted in both a brief expletive – and the remarkably fast restoration of the JAFO attitude as I picked myself up, resumed the walk and realized that despite louder-than-usual sensory data – I am STILL not a body (and free if I so choose)… I imagine the arm will be less sore in a few days, but for the while I have a little reminder to be kind and compassionate (and tolerant of a bit of Ibuprofen magic for this actor) … and every seeming ‘other’ I encounter. BTW, I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in your ‘8 reasons to make merry’ above, too! … particularly the walker portion. Perfect comic relief for yet another form of the same illusory dream, not worthy of anything but remembering to laugh. Thanks!

  2. Hi Bruce:

    Ouch! I hope you’re feeling better this morning. I swear to God that ice is out to get us! 🙂

    Seriously, though, it is all very funny when you bring it to the right mind, this business of vulnerable bodies and the way we like to use them to point fingers at other bodies–sidewalks, ice, insensitive “others.” Take good care of yourself and keep on smiling!

    Love,
    Susan

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