Pausing for Pain

Two weeks ago I was working in my vegetable garden, a caged structure with raised wooden beds and a chicken wire covered frame to keep the rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks away. I was stepping up on the 3 foot high wooden frame of the bed reaching far overhead so I could secure a strand of string for my overgrown tomato plants to the top of the cage.

Looking up with squinted eyes of the chicken wire, threading the string carefully in an awkward spread-eagle across the bed, I didn’t realize that my right shoe was slipping, and no longer gripping the wooden frame. My right leg gave way, without my conscious awareness, and the corner of the wooden garden bed scrapped the inside of my ankle from the base of my foot to my knee which then hit with a thud and that is what alerted me to the fact that I was descending.

I drew in breath with the pain and walked without looking down because, I told myself, I’m too busy for this right now. I knew from the sting, the sudden surge of my heart, that it was not just a bruise. The swelling and darkish appearance of the skin made it presence known. It was a lesson that continues to revisit me.

This weekend, I stepped out of the bath with my mind racing and planning and rehearsing. As I applied oil to my dry skin, I noticed the bruising was still raised and swollen at the ankle, the knee was purple and yellow with healing. I was listening to Braiding Sweetgrass again and heard Robin Wall Kimmerer speak about the need for slow purposeful observation in order to understand.

This morning, as I prepare for school to begin, as I think of equity and social justice, and using all of the lessons of antiracism and trauma informed pedagogy, I realize my brain is racing and my body is warning me, slow down. Pause for the pain in everyone and everything.

Published by Melanie White

I am an English and Media Studies teacher, and Department Head of Fine Arts at Nepean High School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am concerned with equity and antiracist practices while recognizing that I am speaking from a position of privilege and continuing to learn.

2 thoughts on “Pausing for Pain

  1. I love the last line here. I want to rush, to get things done in a hurry. Aging is forcing me to take time. Braiding Sweetgrass is so full of life lessons we need in this difficult world. Do take care of that leg. Love the photo of your garden.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And, the even greater irony? I rushed this post, wanting to edit the images, but struggling with the new block editor in WordPress. (face palm) Old habits are hard to unlearn but age is seeing them in everything. Thanks for reading, Glenda!

      Liked by 1 person

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