“It Is What It Is”

Training for what I continue to insist will be my one-and-only Ironman has been a matter of waiting for the shoe to drop. Even as I diligently put in the miles (very long, very slow), I’ve been expecting something catastrophic to derail my plans. To that end, I haven’t even bought our plane tickets yet. What’s come along so far hasn’t been hugely dramatic, but it’s taught me some lessons in dealing with what life presents me. First, I managed to roll my ankle for the umpteenth time ten minutes into a two-and-a-half-hour run—not even on trails, but on a curb!—but, as there’s really nothing left to sprain in there, it’s been manageable and is now mostly healed. The lesson there, learned once more, is to appreciate staying upright; it’s never a given.

Friday night, as I was making guacamole (stone-cold sober!), I botched the glamorous thwack-the-avocado-pit-with-the-butcher-knife move I’ve done for years and instead thwacked my hand. (As the triage nurse pointed out, a teaspoon works just fine for removing avocado pits.) While I felt like I had plenty of presence of mind—staunch the flow, assess the severity, find a neighbor to watch the girls while we head for the ER, put on shoes—I was surprised by my physical reaction once I saw the wound: waves of heat, beads of sweat on my face, an inability to walk unassisted. What can we control? The motion of the hand holding a knife? The sympathetic nervous system? Nope. Just our reaction. I tried to find the best form and breath, relaxing everything but the thumb that pressed against the cut, breathing slowly and intentionally.

The staff at the emergency room were wonderfully capable and efficient, and we were in and out of there, four stitches later, in two hours flat. In fact, when we returned, we found the avocado was barely browning, so we added it to the guacamole.

In the five minutes we spent with the nurse who splinted my hand, he repeated at least four times, in reference to his own life, “It is what it is.” This lesson must be constantly presented to frontline workers: It is what it is. This is the situation. This is the emergency. This is the pressing need. This is the present. Notice what is happening in this moment.
No swimming for me this week, but if all goes well, I’ll get to train through the White Lake Half on Saturday. Since my hand really doesn’t hurt, I rigged the splint over a cycling glove and rode, as intended, a lovely century ride yesterday. Here’s another upside to the stitches: I had to stay in my aerobars, no drafting, virtually the whole time. And another: now that the splint is out, to keep my finger from overextending, I’m holding it in jnana mudra.
How grateful I am for my husband, my access to health care, my tolerance for pain, my yoga practice. It is what it is, and it is good.