Here & there: It isn’t better to give than to receive

Stock image, St. George News

FEATURE — I’m 10 days into a 42-day sentence in a round-the-clock shoulder sling.

This is after seven months of sleepless nights, three months of physical therapy, and finally 75 minutes under anesthesia to fix two damaged parts of my shoulder that wouldn’t heal on their own.

It’s not pretty. This recovery business.

Overnight, I went from an independent free-wheeling mama who was taking care of everything and everyone else to a 4-year-old who needs to be taken care of by everyone else.

I need help cutting my food. I need help washing my hair. I need help getting dressed. And driving? Forget about driving.

And forget about sleeping, too.

When I’m not trying to find elusive comfort in a semi-reclined and pillow-stuffed position on the black leather La-Z-Boy my husband temporarily moved into our master bedroom, I’m trying to find it on the couch.

But it’s all in vain. I’m beginning to think I won’t really sleep again until after my sentence is lifted.

All because I wanted to catch a wave by myself back in October.

The audacity!

Apparently, it was very audacious for this 40-something-year-old with lifelong Gumby joints.

While paddling hard for that big, delicious wave of my own, after a morning of getting a little push when it counted from my local surfing instructor, my right shoulder slid out of its proper anatomical position and two things happened simultaneously: I lost all power to my right arm and my right shoulder burned as if I’d been stung by a jelly fish.

What I didn’t know then was that I’d torn one of the tendons in my rotator cuff and also eviscerated the fibrocartilage that helps keep the ball of the shoulder joint in place.

From then until now, I haven’t been able to lift my arm overhead, hold grocery bags, pull garbage cans to the curb or any sundry other simple tasks.

It became clear months ago that I wasn’t getting better. In spite of my best efforts. But even still, I was reluctant to agree to the surgical remedy because I knew that meant significant convalescing.

And it meant I’d need help.

Last year, my family and I spent a Sunday morning with a local Buddhist Fellowship. It was different in many ways from worship services we’d experienced before. There was chanting. There was meditation. And you got to sit cross-legged and barefoot on floor poufs.

My boys loved that – and that the service was only an hour long!

But what I loved best was the message the sensei shared with the congregation. He talked about our understanding, or rather lack of understanding, about the relationship between giving and receiving.

Like me, he’d been raised to believe “it is better to give than to receive.” And now he understood that old adage to be wrong.

It is not wrong, of course, to want to instill generosity and a mindset of service. But we’ve gone too far.

Somewhere along the line we forgot that one cannot exist without the other and therefore they are equally important. One cannot give without someone else receiving. And vice versa.

Over the years, I have subscribed to the old adage and shunned help. I was capable. I was young. I could do it all myself.

Until I was bested by a wave and became the one-armed wonder for six weeks. And now I can do nothing but receive.

I receive home-cooked meals from my neighbors night after night. I receive rides from my 15-year-old permitted driver to get afternoon Cokes. I receive dog-walking help from my sister-in-law, grocery-shopping help from my friends and hair-brushing help from my husband.

I receive it all. And it is all so good.

Regularly and for no apparent reason, my husband often responds to general complaints/observations/statements with the quip: “I hope you learned your lesson!”

Usually, I don’t appreciate it. But in this case, I’ll take it. I have indeed learned my lesson.

And for whoever is listening, I don’t need any more lessons on the matter. Especially if it involves being laid up for six weeks. Or a scalpel.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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