“Gam zeh ya’avor” is a Hebrew phrase meaning “This too shall pass”. I don’t remember where exactly I read about it for the first time, but it remained one of my most favorite lines during too happy or too tedious days. I love old fables with eternal lessons. Being a multi-lingual I have that advantage; I could fly to ancient books of many cultures and learn things to carry forward in life.
“This too shall pass” was the line I uttered every day after my knee injury; during many ER visits, one-step-at-a time crutch walks, lonely recovery afternoons, while depending on a boring pair of athletic shoes for more than a year, being unable to express the kind of pain I was having, biding goodbye to one of my most cherished dreams, seeing non-prettier side of a few close people, realizing the importance of nearer car parking spots, understanding how “things happen when they have to happen”.
“This too shall pass” was the line I uttered while feeling overwhelmed in a happy city in the midnight, while feeling sand between the toes, while counting calories or the numbness and numbers on weighing machine, while chasing a monarch butterfly with my lens, while waiting for connecting flights in an unknown airport, while receiving professional and writing success.
There are times in life when we feel we’re stuck: it seems like there was nothing in the past and there won’t be anything in future. We all have come across that transient reaction, mostly meaningless after a micro-second. But life is really not about that micro-second. It is about all the moments we lived and are living and will continue to live. Life is made of years, years of memories, hopes, yearnings, and stories. Happiness and sorrow both have limited time in those stories.
This weekend I hiked 8 miles in a redwood forest, up to an elevation of 1600 ft. on muddy, slippery, rustic trails. In the past walking 8 miles was never an issue for me. We all love walking until we fall. Two years after that ligament and meniscus surgery on my knee, there are moments when I still feel something is not right inside the knee joint. I still hesitate to take a big step. My knee hurts without giving any prior notice when I climb 100 stairs or jump suddenly or hike on longer routes. The issue with internal pain is its invisibility: only you feel where it pains, most of the times it’s difficult to point out where it hurts the most. There’s no external scar to show or prove what is going on inside.
But you overcome every pain. Eventually. Such is life. I never liked sports that much, I used to prefer a book over outdoor sports. Weight was never an issue for me thanks to my food habits and good genes. But after the surgery and terribly painful recovery, I spent hours exercising alone to build muscles to protect that new ligament, to make my knee and lifestyle normal once again. Outside everything looked normal, inside I had dreadful discomfort at times. So I biked until all muscles hurt, I walked until I felt stronger. I did weight training. Sometimes, alone and uninspired, because almost everyone I knew was too busy updating dinner/lunch menu on their FB status or gossiping about other men and women of their respective neighborhoods. I did not join them. I won’t, ever.
In so many ways my life changed thanks to my fall, surgery and recovery.
I know there are many survivors around us: so many cancer survivors, life- threatening health problem survivors, people who live happily even after losing an important organ, people who survived after losing loved ones. My story is not at all inspiring. But if you had a ligament surgery, you’d know it’s a lonely and painful struggle to get yourself back to routine. There are blogs that talk about 12 months, 24 months long recovery stories. There are blogs that talk about re-surgery. But they all say the same thing that I said to myself all this while: This too shall pass.
Things that change us for good are worth to have. I’m glad that I love books. But now I love physical activities too. I am fitter than ever. I know it can get better if I continue putting more time and effort. That’s the hope that lightens up all worries and occasional pains.
I did not plan my fall, I cannot predict if in future I’ll break any internal tissue again. But I have assembled a faith, that good and bad time, both progress, without waiting for anybody.
This too shall pass.
If you ever fall in life and you cannot crawl through, remember the phrase. It helps.
I could not write this week. Too many events happened. I finished the hiking target; I found happiness through all the pains after that hike. I attended a concert. I watched almost all episodes of my current favorite TV show- Madmen.
Do you watch Madmen? Have you ever lost toe-nails after a difficult hike? I did. Do you have a story that inspired you in your life?