I recently had a couple conversations with Trainer D that started like this:
Me: I feel crummy…so 2 Things: 1) I need you to be nice to me, and 2) I need you to speak English…
(5 minutes later)
Trainer D: [Lapses into Spanish. Not Spanglish, and not Soccer Player Spanish. He breaks into This-Is-What-My-Mother-Tongue-Sounds-Like Spanish]
Me: WHAT did I just say about the English?!?
When I’m not ill and not being picky he sprinkles some Arabic and German words in there for kicks and thinks that if he speaks louder and slower in Spanish I will miraculously understand him. :/.
Coach R only speaks English to me but I still don’t know what he’s saying sometimes. Example: One day I asked him to check if I’m still leaning to the right. Answer: yes, a little. Booooo. He observed intently and instructed, Try to engage your left oblique.
Me (internal): Sure, R, like I’m gonna know how to do that.
But in the same way that he does not joke about agility, Coach R does not joke about obliques –so I tried for a while, looking at our reflections in the mirror with the mute appeal, Is anything happening?
Answer: Not a thing. So I did some twisty exercises (he made sure I didn’t fall off the table). A few days later he vowed, We’ll get you linear yet.
Happily, I’m not always trying to engage my left oblique – I routinely get to rest at the Running Gym. We’ve been talking about music lately while I get stretched out and I’ve been wondering why I enjoy these discussions but they also make me sad. It’s because Coach R is a musician and the way he talks about music was what I was looking for so desperately in the hospital but all I found was discordancy instead.
When I got my digital piano back I played the songs I had recorded before I got sick. I anticipated getting it back for years but when it actually happened I looked at it in the corner of my room and wondered if this was such a good idea after all. One reason was that having your piano in your room reads a little Beth in Little Women to me – but I’m not dying, I’m getting better! But really, it was the association with my Old Life that made my eyes water when I first touched the keys.
I waited until I was alone to play my old songs (thankfully I recalled how to work the buttons). I remembered being in my apartment when I made those recordings and cried through the first couple. But then I came to a favorite I played all the time: Fernando Ortega’s version of the old hymn, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”. I was alone when I recorded it so I played without reservation and at the moment when it transitions from a minor melody to a major chord I used my left digits to emphasize the change to the point where I could feel the vibration through the recording. I had forgotten this would happen so when I heard it for the first time I felt myself sit back in my chair. The crying stopped and my body relaxed. After 3 years the music still resonated with me and brought me comfort even though everything is different.
I’ve written about the concept of recognition before on my blog but lately I’ve started using the word “resonance” more. One of the definitions of resonance is “a sound or vibration produced in one object that is caused by the sound or vibration produced in another,” or simply, “a quality of evoking response” (m-w.com). The way people respond to me now is something I never would have imagined or looked for in my Old Life. Oftentimes I don’t say or do anything in particular but sometimes people see the way I edge myself into my seat at a restaurant or how I push my cart around at the store and they feel compelled to venture beyond the perimeter we maintain around ourselves in public.
Sometimes I do say something pointed, hoping for a response. It’s usually an act of reciprocity – someone trusts me with information and I reciprocate. It has been such a joyful surprise to me to make friends Post-AVM. One of them (a new friend I’ve never met in person but who entered my life bc she’s a caregiver to a loved one in a similar situation) recently emailed me saying she bought my book and been encouraged by it.
This is why I do this. Resonance doesn’t always happen. Reciprocity is an ideal, not a rule of RecoveryLand (or life in general). I have learned that the experience that cost me everything is easily passed over when people are looking for a way to spend their spare time. But it was my choice to write a book and maintain this blog. It was an extremely calculated move – I knew why I wanted to do this long before I was physically ready to dive in. The physically ready point might be debatable sometimes, but whatevs. Since I went to Oregon I’ve started writing exclusively for me and, combined with my physical improvement, it’s a lot easier than when I started. The fact that my body of work is growing means that Resonance can happen completely impersonally – people can order my book or read my blog; they choose their own level of engagement. But personal encounters are a critical part of Recovery for me, and when someone lets me know (thank you!) they’ve been blessed by something I produced I feel the same feeling as when I heard my old recording. The minor key resolves into a sweeping major chord, my insides relax, I stop crying, and I smile again bc I know the right thing is happening.