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Musing: An Old Injury
I injured myself last week.
In the middle of a strenuous activity, my right ankle popped. Pain shot up my leg. I grimaced.
For the next several days, the pain ebbed and flowed. I walked normally most of the time, but then a flash of pain would hit, making it difficult to put weight on that foot. Periodic limping wasn’t too bad, but sometimes the ankle throbbed at night and made it difficult to sleep. With my constant insomnia, that only made my lack of sleep worse.
Fortunately, I’ve healed—mostly—from the incident. I just need to avoid repeating the injury.
And what extreme sport was I doing? Rock climbing? Rappelling? Hiking some narrow, rocky trail in our mountains?
I walked to the kitchen.
I didn’t trip over some misplaced object, roaming robotic vacuum, or snoring dog. I’ve certainly done all those things—many, many times. Here, though, I walked across a smooth, even, wood floor and felt the snap.
How in the world did I hurt myself walking from one room to the next?
An old injury.
I don’t mean a previous injury. An old one. An old person injury.
For you younger readers, let me explain: At some point in life, your body rebels and becomes a walking Rice Krispies’ commercial — Snap. Crackle. Pop.
Stop your snark. You youngsters shake your head and think, “Oh, Boomer.”
First, I was born in a cutoff year between Baby Boomers and Generation X, so it depends on which expert you listen to as to what I am. I’m either a late Boomer or an early Xer. Frankly, I don’t feel a part of either, but that’s a whole different musing.
This Wednesday, I will celebrate fifty-eight years on this earth. In my head, I’m still a kid. My sense of humor is certainly juvenile—just ask those who surround me in real life.
Plus, I make up stories for a living. Some people call that lying. I guess I had a career choice as an author or a politician. I took the more honorable route.
My body, sadly, feels its age. At some point, things disintegrated. I’m like an extra in The Walking Dead—shuffling along as I rot.
It started with my eyes. Since I was a kid, I’ve worn glasses. I remember the day I got my first pair. Discovering I could read what the teacher wrote on the blackboard surprised me. Shoot, it surprised me to discover there was a blackboard. (Stop snickering, youngsters. Yes, blackboard. Chalk. Erasers. None of those squeaky, dry-erase boards for us.)
I still wear glasses, of course, but they’ve progressed to “progressives”—a fancy term for trifocals with the lines hidden for vanity. That’s why us older folks are always tilting our heads and squinting. We’re trying to find the correct square millimeter of the lens that will allow us to focus.
As my ophthalmologist explained, my eyes are healthy. I’m just blind. Unfortunately, the rest of me is catching up.
Knowing my body needs all the help it can get, I make sure I get sufficient exercise every day. Besides six miles a day of walking (keeps the canine chaos to a minimum in the house), I do a series of stretches, planks, and squats. Confident of my eating habits and exercise routine, I set a goal to lose a few pounds this year. To my horror, though, things have gone in the opposite direction between the first of the year and today.
My doctor reminds me that humans normally add a couple of pounds a year in weight. Just maintaining weight is hard enough. Losing it is a bigger challenge.
I like a challenge. I vowed to fight Mother Nature and lose that weight.
Being a geeky, techie person who likes measurements and statistics, I enlisted some technical help. I downloaded one of those calorie-counting apps. Before starting the tracking, it asked for some basic information so it could determine my calorie budget for each day in order to hit my weight goal by the end of the year. Height. Weight. Age. Calculate.
Wait. That’s all? I had pizzas in college with more calories than this thing claimed I could have—all day. The app, despite being recommended by many, had to be wrong. So I downloaded another. Roughly the same answer. A third? Ditto.
In frustration, I entered the data again. Only, this time, I entered my age as that mythical 29. You know, half of what I am. Well, half of what I will be on Wednesday—I want those two days of blissful 57.
The answer revealed the unfairness of the world. Younger people of the same weight, height, activity level, etc., etc., get to eat more calories. How is that fair? Does getting older not give us some advantage?
Following the advice of the app, I tracked what I ate for a week. I didn’t change my food habits, but just tracked. The resulting calories, less the calories I burn from exercise, predicted I would gain 1-2 pounds a year—exactly what I’ve been doing. I hate when treasonous software turns out to be accurate.
Disgustingly—and, yes, I checked—that mythical 29-year-old would lose a pound or two on the same calorie consumption. I hate him. Probably has a six-pack too. The only six-pack I’ll ever have is sitting in the refrigerator.
Using the app, I calculated how many net calories I would need to maintain weight. Deciding I could do that, I checked again to see what it would take to lose weight. After tweaking and estimating, I’ve set a calorie budget that will get me to my weight goal by the end of the year.
With that goal and the history of what I’ve eaten, I adjusted my menus. Of course, I left the necessities—craft beer, sweet iced tea, etc.—I live in Asheville, after all. But with a reasonable menu and acceptable portion controls, I’ve been following the plan. I’m down a couple pounds.
Then I twisted my ankle walking across a flat surface. Personally, I blame a lack of calories.
Vocabulary Word Of The Week: Solastalgia
Bonus Word: Neologism
Two words for the price of one! A vocabulary BOGO!
Lisa Unger’s novel Last Girl Ghosted used the word solastalgia, defined as “a miserable tangle of solace, desolation, and nostalgia.”
Before I explain the word further, I need to explain that new words—neologisms—routinely enter our vocabulary. Often, these words represent developing technologies and situations which require fresh vocabulary. Think of the many words created by the internet over the past few decades.
Dictionaries evolve to define words as they come into common usage. They do not dictate what is and isn’t allowed, but reflect what language is being used.
Neologisms often haven’t hit that level of acceptance and that’s true of solastalgia. Merriam-Webster, for example, does not list solastalgia. Nor does my spellcheck software which makes writing this article entertaining.
The word’s inspiration is nostalgia. The Latin nostos means home and -algia refers to pain, so nostalgia translates almost literally as homesickness. While you may think of nostalgia as a pleasant feeling, it was coined to refer to those separated from their homelands—from military warriors to slaves—with a near paralyzing desire to return. During the U.S. Civil War, nostalgia was a common medical diagnosis for Union troops wanting to return to their native states.
Only in the last century has the word come to mean a wistful—and less debilitating—desire for the past.
Philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined solastalgia using the Latin root sōlācium (comfort) to refer to pain of witnessing environmental change such as floods, droughts, or fires.
To illustrate the difference, a person evacuated from the path of a wildfire might feel nostalgic—a desire to return home. But once they see the charred remains of their house, they feel solastalgic—standing in the place that was home but is now gone.
By the way, even neologisms don’t stop evolving in meaning. Solastalgia now encompasses those feeling the pain of war, such as Ukrainians returning to their villages and finding them destroyed. They are home, but home is gone.
A bench glistens with morning dew as the rising sun breaks through the forest. Common to find someone sitting and reading later in the day, but at sunrise, we have the trail to ourselves.
Interesting Links: Your Journal As Time Machine
As an avid journaler, I found this article mesmerizing, but even if you don’t journal, think of the possibilities.
In the quiet of the mornings before anyone else awakes (yes, including the canines of my house), I sketch out thoughts from dreams, plans for the day, and ideas that need caffeine to bake more. Before bed, I note things that went well for the day, opportunities to do things better, and notes of things I need to accomplish.
In Your Journal As Time Machine, Anne Carley suggests other missed opportunities we could take advantage of.
When waiting on an appointment or task that is just minutes away, do you think of that as wasted moments? Not enough time to start the next task, right? We pull out the phone and doom scroll through Facebook or Instagram or TikTok or whatever our social media drug of choice is. We “kill” time with something mindless.
Nothing wrong with intentional mindlessness—a really wonderful movie, for example, can be a great escape—but just letting time slip by because you don’t think you can get something done is different. What if we used those little moments of time a little more creatively?
Since reading the article, I’ve been taking those spare minutes with my journal as I brainstorm a story I’m working. I don’t have to solve it, but a few minutes to dig at it can be powerful. In fact, it led to a breakthrough I had never even suspected. The breakthrough didn’t come during those few minutes, but the foundation for it was built then.
Try it the next time you have a spare few minutes waiting on something. What can you do with some intentional focus?
Books Read: Last Girl Ghosted
I read 100 novels a year and share the best with you.
A dating site leads to a perfect match for Wren Greenwood, until the man disappears and mystery grows. Will she be the last girl ghosted?
Gratuitous Dog Picture
One of the interesting things about sharing life with Siberian Huskies is how much they like to talk. Not bark—talk. Landon sees himself as quite the storyteller and this tale went on and on and on.
Have a terrific week. See you next Monday!
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