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Being Mindful

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Being Mindful

Ernie looks at life from flat on his back

I had pulled a sled full of firewood to the porch and up the three steps for unloading under the roof about a thousand times. On this Sunday afternoon there was a light snow falling with a little breeze as Linda and I chopped. After loading the sled, I headed for the porch. A little snow was blowing under the roof onto the deck as I turned around to wrench the sled up the steps. 

I gave a good tug and both feet let go of the slick surface and flew.  I caught a lot of air and a little hang time before I landed hard on the small of my back, nothing breaking the fall—just me slammed onto the frozen boards. 

A loud, involuntary groan whooshed out from my throat and flew out into the cold wind across the yard and into the woods. Linda, still at the woodshed, was alerted by sound. She looked to see what had happened but couldn’t see me so shouted what was up and where I was.  

Lying on my back in the snow on the porch my first thoughts were” “How many stupid pills did I have to take to pull this off so successfully?”

Linda was running, the best she could while being more mindful of ice and snow than I had been. Her face was a graphic image of concern. I yelled I had not hit my head, then muttered, “I wouldn’t be hurting so bad if I had.” 

When she got to me I was sitting up, in pain, snow melting through my jeans and my anger was in control.

I think one reason Linda is in my life is to tell me when I’m really not being kind to myself—to look at myself through a more compassionate heart, the way she looks at me. So she pointed out, in her always-gentle way, the worst thing I could do was beat myself up, to claim to be stupid. She pointed out I had made a mistake and now I needed to start the healing process—being angry was only going to postpone or prevent that from happening. 

In my state of mind I heard “Don’t be so stupid as to call yours truly stupid just because you did something stupid.”

She read my mind and said softly, “You are not stupid.”

Even through the murky haze of pain I knew she was right. I needed to get stupid out of my head and start listening to what I needed right now. 

She asked if I could feel my feet; yes, I could. She carefully bent my legs; they worked fine. The back hurt, but there were no shooting pains down my legs. I was sure I wasn’t severely injured and no surgery would be necessary even though the pain was nearly unbearable. I had seriously insulted my body.  

Linda asked what I thought I needed. 

What a brilliant question. What do I need? It forced me to focus on my healing instead of on what had happened. 

I heard again, “What do I need?” I felt getting up and beginning to move would help. So that’s where we began.

Painfully, as my body was moving into recovery mode, I started to get up with her assistance. Inside she helped me out of boots and wet clothes while gently touching around my back and spine asking if there were any additional pain. Still, I was sure I was only hurting—no serious injuries.  

Because of her questions I listened to what I felt. Walking around the house for a bit seemed right, and a trekking pole helped. After a couple laps, ice seemed to be needed. I tried both for a while before sitting down with the ice on my back. 

A Sunday afternoon alone at home with my wife is precious time to me. I had been enjoying our day jointly doing chores, even working on taxes together, which brought back some fond memories. There had been a snowshoe trek as the snow loaded the trees in our woods with Nikki, our dog. 

After bringing in some wood we were going to grill some steaks and open a very nice bottle of wine. 

But now, I could only concentrate on trying to get comfortable. 

The anger started to surface again and I began to mutter. 

Linda pointed out to me, ever so gently, that I was not helping the healing process. 

Okay, back to what it is I need.

I was in the middle of  “Another Flippin’ Learning Opportunity,” or, as I like to call it, an AFLO. 

There had been stresses earlier in the day, which is where my mind had drifted. I was not present with the task. I am smart enough not to pull hard backwards while standing on a slick surface, yet that is exactly what I had done. 

So I did it, and there were consequences. Now I have to heal it. The only way to do that was leave it in the past. 

I also needed to forgive myself. Not only for making the mistake but also for berating myself for doing it. This is not a new thought to me; in fact, I have helped others through exactly the same process. 

I remember something Plato wrote: “And therefore, if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing.” 

It brought me back to forgiveness. 

It is my responsibility to manage my thoughts. The stresses didn’t cause the accident; I was simply not paying attention. 

So I had the opportunity, for several days, to allow someone else to care for me, and to be caring to myself. It was a chance for me to be with me, to remember I am not stupid and I do deserve to be cared for.  

Now I’m feeling good again and trying to put the lessons of that Sunday into daily practice. 

Ernie Hawks is a writer, photographer and motivational speaker. Reach him at [email protected], and check out his photos at www.PhotosbyHawks.net

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

Tagged as:

The Hawks Nest, blame, forgiveness, preoccupation, paying attention

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