Nine months ago today, life handed me some lemons. That’s right, I’m already heading in hardcore cliche territory with this blog. The very first sentence had a phrase fit for a Hallmark card, or worse… a Lifetime movie of the week. I’m shuddering now, are you too?
Anyway, 39 weeks ago (or 273 days for those paying attention), I broke my right index finger. Okay, I didn’t just break it. According to the ER doctor who saw me that night and the hand surgeon who operated on me a few days later, I turned the base of that finger into a jigsaw puzzle. Again, the index finger on my right hand (the one that matters) was so damaged, it was questionable whether or not I would ever regain full function of it. That was a big deal. We’re talking about the digit that is one notch below the opposable thumb on the finger priority list.
Here’s the video. If it’s new to you, watch it. If it’s old news, skip it for the text below.
Anyway, that event ended up resulting in many other things, including this subsequent blog, this later blog, these lyrics, and a handful of pictures that most sane people didn’t care to give a first glance, let alone a second one. In short, a ten second incident dictated much of my life for the next few months.
Frankly, to quote Shakespeare, it was a pain in the ass. (Or was that Poe?) Anyway, it limited me and restricted me. But ultimately, it forced me to expand. It made me realize how good things really were. On a purely physical level, it reminded me of my mortality and forced me to appreciate how healthy I had been up to that point (and still was, really).
Shortly after the incident, my cousin Bill offered a voice of solidarity. Here was a man who had broken pretty much every bone you could name… multiple times. And it never seemed to slow him down. In fact, he had recently suffered a shrapnel wound to his index finger. We talked via private messages on Facebook. He encouraged me, yet kicked the real deal my way. The quote that stands out (locked in my mind) from that day is, “Well, the reality is that neither one of us will likely ever wield a hammer with any kind of authority.”
Fast forward to today. I am on day number two of helping my dad build a big shed. It’s August… in Arizona. If the math escapes you, ask someone. Better yet, do a Google search. It’s desert heat plus monsoon humidity. But I’m not complaining. I am helping someone I love and someone who has always helped me.
I’m hammering nails into the floor of what is to be Shedzilla. The sun is beating down. The humid air is like breathing water. Flies are swarming. The radio is 30% oldies and 70% static. My knees look like those of a Muay Thai fighter. I was just told yesterday that my dream isn’t going to happen. I’ve received a multitude of insults from people in the last few days, in the form of Facebook posts, emails, lyrics, and direct messages. My past is sketchy. My future… undefined. I slept one hour last night. I had a glass of milk for breakfast.
I am hammering nails.
I am hammering nails?
I am hammering nails.
Three nails into finishing the floor of the shed, it hit me: I am hammering nails.
Bill’s quote flooded back into my head. Yesterday’s defeat dissolved. I paused briefly to check the date on my phone. It was indeed the same day of the month that I had effectively ruined my hand three quarters of a year earlier. I was hammering away… with authority It hit me.
I stopped and looked around. I was in the back yard I grew up in. A big eucalyptus tree was above me. I was surrounded by bees, quail, cicadas buzzing in the treetops, and Peach-faced lovebirds. The cloud pattern across the sky was nothing short of amazing. I was in the place where I once dreamed that anything was possible and lived accordingly because life hadn’t told me otherwise yet.
I continued hammering nails into the side of lemons. The perfect sunshine provided the day’s sugar. Days past were dissolved in the mix.
Life handed me lemons.
And I hit them with a hammer.