I’ve never considered myself to be reckless. Even as a teenager I was the one who always ‘looked before I leapt’. However, I did not live a cotton wool-padded life. As a mid-baby boomer with two working parents I grew up with bare feet, no bike helmet, no sunblock, lots of sharp objects, bare electricals, toxic and explosive stuff hanging around accessibly, and deadly plants and spiders in the garden. Also, I had plenty of unsupervised freedom to roam the neighbourhood and the local forests, creeks and storm drains. Many other kids suffered breaks, lacerations, concussions and other injuries due to recklessness. But, me, not so much. With enormous energy and zest for life, I ran, jumped, climbed, rode, splashed, explored, poked and prodded to my heart’s content, but quite consciously and aware of my body, movements and surroundings.
As an adult, that extended to bushwalking, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, woodwork, scientific laboratory research, house renovating, raising step-kids and various other activities with plenty of scope for getting hurt. And get hurt I did. As an adult, some of that earlier self-care fell away.
- My hand was sliced open by a glass breaking whilst drying the dishes.
- Wrist artery sliced open while trying to cut a big block of wax to make candles.
- Serious mid-spinal injury trying to catch a falling pig carcass in the lab.
- Electrocuted by a light socket while doing repairs.
- Lower back whiplashed by a dumper wave while body surfing.
- Neck whiplashed as a sleeping passenger in a car because I stayed up too late the night before.
- Nearly drowned in an ocean rip because I went body surfing right after having the flu.
- Hip ligaments torn jogging too far on concrete pavements.
- Bare toe trodden on by a full-size horse.
- Thumb ripped backwards in a ski crash in New Zealand.
- A 60 kilometre per hour meeting of my head and elbow with the road when I came off a bicycle, going helmetless down a mountain in Japan.
- Herniated lower spinal disk lifting something too heavy while angry.
- Bitten by two deadly venomous snakes while not fully present during a couple of incidents of being in reaction to other people’s abusiveness, and more.
You get the picture!
Now I have one leg longer than the other, which exacerbates the spinal injuries. Constant headaches and cramps from the wrecked neck. Constant pain and various levels of disability from the ruined lower vertebral disks. Frequent excruciating pain and joint distortion in my ‘skier’s thumb’. Metal pins and rearranged anatomy in my shoulder. Uneven vision due to retinal damage in one eye. Visible scars.
These things are all blatant and obvious as immediate consequences of actions, movements made with too little stillness preceding them. I became more careful with my body, gradually returning to how I was as a very sensible, grounded child fully participating in life but with care and awareness. And yet….
How about the dangerous and uncomfortable side effects of chronic medications to control the rhythm of my heart because of atrial fibrillation contracted from a parasitic disease from rats as I lived in a contaminated house due to not stopping to discern the house’s suitability before signing the rental agreement?
Or a serious, potentially crippling split in the capsule around my knee joint because I stood up too fast from kneeling too long because I was so focussed on what I was doing instead of positioning my body supportively and not feeling calls from it when it had enough already?
Every moment in life is a fork in the road with subtle differences between the possible ways of moving. Each movement following any level of unawareness, lack of presence, or any degree of checking out or getting ahead of oneself is a disaster waiting to happen. If not right away, then unfolding gradually down the track.
These kinds of experiences and many more like it have shown me that there is a scale of recklessness; an experience-based progression of reducing the self-abuse and disregard with which we treat our bodies. However, is it possible that even as we become more careful and more aware and no longer race around oblivious to likely consequences, it is as if we are still driving forward but looking back in the rearview mirror with our foot pressed firmly on the throttle?
We are living both ahead of and behind our present movements, instead of focussing our sensitivity on the present moment so that we can feel what’s coming. We stuff up and then go over the lesson and review how we moved inappropriately that led to the hassles, dramas and hurts we suffered. It’s very good to look at the past and learn from mistakes rather than dismissing them as ‘all behind, move on’ and repeating the same stuff over and over. But it’s also not good to dwell in the miseries and self-flagellation of past mistakes instead of being so present, open and self-appreciative that we can sense ahead of time. I always say: “Drop the guilt but keep the lessons.” But there’s way more. Thanks to Serge Benhayon for expanding my understanding of presence and movement beyond anything I had come to before in my adult life.
It’s a platform that never stops evolving. The bar can always be raised a bit more. Nowadays I even check my presence and awareness in just leaning against a table. If I’m a little bit out of my full presence, it actually hurts to lean gently on the table! Even thinking about something less than ideal for my sensitive body hurts in an intangible way. The meter on the scale of recklessness (and disregard and abuse) is being tuned finer and finer and will continue to be. It now includes all humanity. If I make a move with my body or my mind from an energy that hurts me, even subtly, then it hurts everyone.
But it’s not all doom and gloom by any means. I can allow myself to be on the front foot lovingly and joyfully – aware and unafraid to live life to the full. And… with all my painful reminders to never drop my level of awareness and energetic responsibility!
By Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons, Scientist, Lismore, NSW