Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground/Mother Earth will swallow you/Lay your body down. - "Find the Cost of Freedom" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Since coming home from the hospital over four-and-a-half weeks ago, I have been up to the second floor almost exclusively to shower. I've slept in my own bedroom twice.
What was once perhaps an intuitive need is more of an operation: Scale the stairs. Get to my parents' bathroom. Get the shower chair inside. Strip down. Get to the shower and sit down. Scrub as best I can and rinse. Get out of the shower to a chair and dress.
Even so, getting a shower gives me a sense of my autonomy back. So too does getting around here with my walker. Nonetheless, being unable to walk unaided plainly sucks. I have to be so much more deliberate now than I probably should've been before I fell.
I pondered what that means now after I went through those paces Thursday evening.
I wanted to lead with my bad leg as I started going up the stairs. However, it had been sore throughout the day and only could buckle as I tried to put some pressure on it.
"Is that how you're supposed to do it?" Mom asked. "No," I guess I said beleaguered. The rule is to lead with the good leg going up and with the bad leg going down. While the porch and walkway are a different scenario, getting up the stairway at all is great. Still, I was frustrated with that one step. That weakness is what is keeping me down.
I instantly thought about Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's two-minute pining "Find the Cost of Freedom." It wasn't the lyrics, though; it was just the title that got me thinking.
The song has been interpreted as a brief critique on the perceived meaningless human cost of our nation's involvement in Vietnam. It has also been seen as a call to action for those who were against the war. However, I thought about it in the shower not for a political message, but how it could apply to me being laid up and changing internally.
I remembered what I said to Greencastle firefighter Jason Simonson when I called for my fire runs earlier on. He asked me how I have been doing, to which I said that some days are better than others. Maybe he picked up on it, but it wasn't just about my leg.
Being crippled like this has been challenging mentally and, frankly, also emotionally as such. It has been being resentful that I haven't gone out to that fire or wreck. It has been overthinking and knee-jerking the intentions of people I've considered friends and partners. It all is a crushing of trust and what I value inside and outside of work.
I'll come right out and say that I believe this has not become depression. The limiting factor has been time for the bone to fuse and my leg muscles to refire. Rather, it's not knowing what to do and what I can do. I have a yearning to fix this and move forward.
I don't bear myself out here to gain any simple sympathy from people, especially those who may feel wronged by me or think that this gets too much. Though discretion is the better part of valor, honesty is still good policy. The cost of being able is facing up to it.
"At least they're not all bad," Jason told me before he transferred me. This is an honest realization. I should be and am thankful that I have the support system here at home.
I think he unwittingly gave me a kind of pep talk about finding good in a bad situation; about having grace when there isn't much balance. The thing is, he just left it at that.
How do you find the cost of freedom? In this physical sense, you have to lose it first. If and when you are able to get some of it back, you don't ever take it for granted again.