See Two Mountains Shamelessly Hugging!--by Reb MacRath

The prettiest picture I ever did see shows two mountains engaged in a passionate hug.

Oh, I know what you're thinking: There you go again with your damned tomfoolery, always waxing wise with words when wise has already been waxed! There's not a mountain to be seen--just a 9th draft on a laptop screen and a brand new Moleskine notebook centered on its keyboard. But cut me, please, a little slack. 

For me, spelling out 'mountains of work' would have been less honest. Not to say that either the 9th draft or the Moleskine used to outline the next book for months would have been a piece of cake if not for a couple of curveballs I couldn't have foreseen. But while I convalesced from total knee replacement, I'd planned to breeze through this last draft on my laptop instead of printing out the 8th draft and working on a hard copy, which I'd then need to transcribe. And I could do this in my Bedder writing corner, taking breaks now and then to fill more pages of the Moleskine while I gave my knee a rest. Then--God the plans I had!--for the first time in my writing life, I'd pay an editor to proof and tweak the deathless prose for fall publication. And to reward myself I hoped to take a relaxing trip by train.

But one by one these lovely plans began to fall like dominoes.
--My automobile accident claim, filed last year, resulted in a denial of responsibility rather than a settlement. The claim's either dead in the water or may go through lengthy litigation and the former seems more likely. Farewell to the train trip and the professional editor.
--Three months of painful physical therapy failed to achieve the desired result: a 110-120 degree range of motion with my knee. I was sentenced to a second procedure, a Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA)--a forced bending of the knee to clear out the scar tissue behind the knee that was blocking flexion. This was done on 6/4--successfully, they told me. But the post-surgical pain returned and my quad muscles were inflamed from the trauma. Regardless, I had a short window of opportunity to fight through the quads' resistance in order to keep the full flexion gained by the MUA. Or else we'd have to do it all over again.
--This meant, in addition to more aggressive physical therapy, spending less time Bedder Writing and more time on my feet at my stand-up desk. And that meant quickly gaining more strength in my atrophied right leg--walking, walking, walking, and standing whenever I could.

All right, all right, already. The mountains are clear--where the hell is the hug?

One day--I can't tell you how or why--I realized that I was perceiving my sufferings and setbacks personally. The failed or stalled auto claim, the work injury and the need for the MUA, the absolute necessity of learning to cope with more pain each day, were mountains, I thought, meant to block me. But what if, I wondered, this one day, the mountains had their jobs to do and they felt pretty blue that I hated them so for simply being what they were. What if what they needed more than anything else was a hug?

And what if I treated the pain of PT not as ghastly punishment for sins that I hadn't committed--or if I had, didn't enjoy them--and treated it as something good: proof that I was breaking through the muscular tightness that blocked me? And what if standing at my desk, however sore it may be, speeds my recovery and hones my wits?

And what if I flat-refused to use Instacart anymore for home food deliveries with their service charges, fees, and tips? Yesterday and today, I set out with my walker and my wounded knee to shop at the nearest of my employer's branch stores. In addition to getting a good workout, I saved some serious money. One example: The Vega meal replacement powder, which sells for $59.99 at Whole Foods or QFC, was on sale for $39.99--or $29.25 with my employee discount. Consider the fees and tips I'd have spent with Instacart and I saved on this one item alone close to $40. Total savings for two trips came to $80-$100. The train trip for next year is on.

Circling back to my opening sentence:

The prettiest picture I ever did see shows two mountains engaged in a passionate hug.

There you have two mountains--a 9th draft in progress and a Moleskine to outline the next book--nestling together on my standup desk while I stand half-wincing, half-grinning--to throw my arms around them both.



Welcome to MacRathWorld, if you like premium blends of mystery, action, and suspense. From Caesar's Rome to Seattle today, the twists fly at the speed of night. If you're unfamiliar with my work, I recommend starting with the new Seattle BOP mysteries. Here's the link to my AuthorPage on Amazon for a detailed look at the variety of 'rides' in my amusement park.


Peter Leyland said…
That's a good story of recovery, Reb, although it sounds a painful process. Writing seems to be kind of metaphor here as you trace its progress, and I do like the picture. Hugging, yes is wonderful, the best moments of the day as I say to my partner, and us creative types do need our communal writing hugs too. So here's one from me. Take care, from Peter.
Bill Kirton said…
In what has been such a trying time for so many, it sounds as if the straw you drew was particularly short, Reb. Happily, it also sounds as if you've weathered the storm (See? I can mix metaphors with the best) and come out the other side intact (Wow! Another one!) I hope that bloody knee stops troubling you so much and you can focus on getting that final draft in shape (OK, Bill, that's enough for now) Seriously, take care, Big Man, and all my good wishes for the coming weeks and months.
Ruth Leigh said…
I like your cartoon, Reba. That's it, exactly! To a T. WIshing you a speedy recovery from what sounds like a grim time.
Eden Baylee said…
Hi Reb, sorry to hear of the tough slog you've had of late. Despite it, you sound optimistic and have a terrific outlook and attitude. I think your mental stamina will carry you far until your leg improves.

Sending healing energy your way,
Reb MacRath said…
Thanks, Bill. Your kind words are most welcome. I'll begin the final draft the last week in June so as to give the ms. a short rest. Meanwhile, I'm busy filling that blue Moleskine with notes for the next series entry. Got to keep hugging the mountains. Or what's a meta for?
Reb MacRath said…
Thanks, Peter. Hugs are so much richer and more rewarding than COVID fist or elbow bumps!
Reb MacRath said…
Thanks, Ruth. If I still drank I'd be able to say When the going gets tough the tough get glowing. But I can't think of an equivalent for carrot juice or smoothies. So I'll hang in there as best I can.
Reb MacRath said…
Thanks, Eden. Those healing vibes gave me a boost!
Wendy H. Jones said…
A brilliant post as always, Reb. I love the way you changed your view of your circumstances and turned them into something positive. I am going to remember that and use it myself.

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