On Monday, I hobbled into my teaching job. Every other step, pain zipped though the right side of my hip and forced me into a jerking sort of movement just short of a collapse. I could not keep my face straight or look people in the eyes until it eased up again.
Over and over I heard the words: “Are you okay?”
And, because I like honest answers to this question, I said, “No.” Over and over.
The day before, I had been feeling so much better I thought I could go for a glorious forty five minute walk on a blustery day with an eagle soaring above me and later surprising me by flying right in front of me.
I don’t like taking long breaks.
Short breaks are lovely but breaks that last more than a few days get on my nerves. My hip has been teaching me that, although I might feel healed after one physical therapy treatment, this does not mean I can go on an intense walk up hills.
The same sort of thing happens with my writing.
After meeting my deadlines I made everything stop. I hadn’t taken a single day off from writing in weeks and, like I wrote earlier, I needed time to play with paints and let my mind wander away from my checklists. I gave myself a week to leave the words behind.
I made it four days before I couldn’t take it anymore and ached for my pen and keyboard.
Shortly after that (and before my disastrous walk), I wrote this piece on Superman in an exercise I found in Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine.
Superman Calls It Quits
It was the look in her eyes that first made me snap. Even my cat didn’t glare at me with that much disdain when I forgot to buy his food after a busy day pretending to be Clark Kent.
“You could have come a bit sooner, you know.” She stood now, brushing herself off and putting a hand out to keep me at arm’s length.
As I felt the sting of her words, I couldn’t help but notice how perfect her face was. Everything about her features was symmetrical — her lips looked like something an anime artist would draw. Seeing her filled me with an ache that made me want to turn away. Or do anything for her. Even jump to the top of the burning bridge where Lex Luther had put her about an hour ago.
Which is what got me into this mess to begin with.
“I needed you to get me off that bridge right away. And you couldn’t even manage to save me without tearing my dress on the trusses.” She picked up the flimsy thing around her legs and waved it to show me the rip in the fabric. Apparently, she wore it to dinner with Luther after he’d bribed her with the promise of a good story.
She was right, of course. I didn’t really know how this rescue work was supposed to go. I’d just started a few months ago with little experience battling bad guys or saving people who got themselves into peril.
I nodded, knowing I should say something. Anything. But nothing was coming to me. My Super Tongue was stuck to the roof of my Super Mouth and the man of steel was no match for the wrath of this woman who was late for her next appointment.
She gave me one last exasperated look, threw her hair back, and climbed down off the rock where I set her earlier, underestimating my speed and causing her to turn her ankle.
I watched her struggle on her own and slip into the mud as she huffed along and knew better than to offer help again.
Right then I decided to quit. Obviously, I was not cut out for hero work and damsels would be better off without me.
Maybe the poor guy needed to take a break. And not just a short one. Superman and I will keep working on it and taking shorter walks for now.
May you find the rest you need-
A recycled bit on the wonder series:
I love the way writing and other art forms open my eyes to the surprises around me in my everyday life. Many of these wonders will also be in my Instagram account since I discovered the joy of that program during an advent photo project.
I collect these surprises like little rocks in a kid’s pocket. I may use them in a story. I may not. Either way, life gets a little brighter when I take the time to notice.