Catching the tram to the Melbourne office this morning, the pavement was mysteriously dry, the traces of the torrent that the city had been under only noticable in the weight of the air. Halfway along my journey, the weight of water in the air became too much again, and the deluge returned. Engrossed as I was in email on my phone, the sluggish and awkward shifting of people mechanically making their way to work, and the underlying smell of warm, wet fabric and urine that was unable to escape through the windows shut tight against the slashing rain, I missed the still-unfamiliar stop and had to walk back a block in the downpour that the trees above seemed to only funnel heavily down to the sidewalk, testing the mettle of my flimsy pocket umbrella. And still, I was feeling happy, even entertained. In anticipation of the return of the warm summer rain, I’d skipped the jeans and shoes and worn just shorts and my rubber slippers (flip-flops, thongs, whatever your regional bias may be), and the rain soaked my feet and calves like an atmospheric carpet bombing, but in turn let my feet and legs feel things they’d be otherwise walled off from by material: miniature rivers pouring from driveways pushing urgently at my feet, breezes accentuated by my wet skin, even small pebbles wedging themselves in my soles just to be washed away again in the next step. The simple pleasures of texture and sensation.
This new year has started in much the same way. Nearly the whole of 2010 for me was one of recovery and patience; between injuring my shoulder in January and surgery in May, most physical activities were put on hold, and I had to simply bide my time and explore other activities to occupy my time. I still traveled quite a bit, visiting five countries in all and making quite a few trips to Melbourne, but the downtime in between was not quite me. I am a tactile person, a physical person, and the couch gave me little to feed from.
Just before Christmas, I finally got the official word from my doctor that I was healed enough to put my shoulder back to work. I was cleared to climb, to surf, to return to all those things that made me feel like me. But I’m not healed, I’m just healed enough. I’ve also lost a lot of ground after a year of inactivity, both physically and mentally. I get to re-discover all these things. Notice that’s not a “have to”, but a “get to”. I get to re-introduce my body to being used, to being stretched and moved, to being contentedly tired, to feeling strong. I get to re-discover the textures of stone, the pressure of the force of ocean waves, and all the minute sensations that accompany them. For me 2011 has started slowly, methodically, reminding me that there is more to these things than simply doing them.