Sitting on a rock along the water on Orr’s Island - breathing with the waves, slowly in, slowly out - I nod to the passers by.
My family has moved along on the path while I pull up a rock, knee crutch in place trying to honor the order to stay off of my feet and let my fractured foot heel.
I nod politely to folks on the trail, many in cycling clothes, having parked their bikes momentarily to walk along the cliffs.
I don’t want to talk with anyone. I talk, I listen, I interact all week. It’s Sunday, I have unplugged and come to the water to recharge.
A gentleman and his wife, clad in cycling gear, nod to me as they walk by but strike up conversation when they pass me again.
“What did you do?” he asked, nodding to the crutch.
I don’t want to talk but I won’t be rude. I told him I was training for a marathon, got a stress fracture and was trying to let it heal.
“You know you need to stay off of it,” he said, as his wife offered that he was a PT. I groaned. Strangers now were giving me unsolicited advice.
We spoke briefly about how hard it is to do the right thing when you need to be active to feed your soul. I’d guess he was in his 50’s or 60’s and he took off his sun glasses and asked me to do the same.
Then he bent to my level and looked me in the eyes. “You know what you need to do,” he said, and I saw the light reflecting off of his blue eyes.
“Take this time to find the other side of yourself.”
His wife went on to tell me of the cutting boards he made and the songs he learned on the guitar while his injury healed.
We both put our sunglasses back on and I chewed on his words.
“Find the other side of yourself,” he said as we parted ways.
I guess this is what I’ve been missing in trying to understand this place of life in which I find myself. Right now I’m focused on what I can’t do or what I’ll do when I can finally be physically active again, with no restrictions. What I'll do when I have my independence back.
I relate to life through my body - through running and lifting and golfing.
But if I start looking for the other side of myself I see so much more. I see my own guitar and the songs I want to learn. I feel this pressing need to connect with my spirituality, and spend more time by myself in nature.
I don’t know all of what is on the other side of myself. But this advice from a stranger might be the best advice I’ve had in a long time.
Find the other side of yourself.