The lovely Mere Lake, less than half a kilometre from here on the Subiaco Common, might just as well have been on the other side of the moon. Bursitis of the hip has kept me home for many weeks, or at best walking only short essential distances. Swimming, even many laps, on the other hand, didn’t hurt as much, so the local pool became my go-to place.
But I’ve been a walker all my life, and not walking makes me grumpy. This is especially so because of my commitment to living the way Julia Cameron recommends in The Artist’s Way. She says to be creative, a person should
- Write three pages in longhand every morning.
- Walk every day
- Go on an ‘artist’s date’ every week.
When I lose that rhythm my life loses some of its bounce. I struggle. Lurching, limping, staggering and stumbling give me no pleasure.
I don’t often write about the discomfort that can go with the territory of an ageing body, mine in particular. Pain is on my list of taboo subjects for discussion. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about aches, pains and illnesses and why I think they make lousy conversation.
As Gordon Livingston, MD says in his terrific book Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart,
‘…the old have a duty to suffer the losses of age with as much grace and determination as they can muster and to avoid inflicting their discomforts on those who love them.’
However, observers might have noticed my recently acquired limp. Oh, and my contorted face when I moved. My hip seemed like the only thing left in my life to talk about. That, and my sessions with the physiotherapist, ‘dry needling’, the special exercises I did and those I couldn’t and, of course, my pain medication.
(Thank you, dear family, who treated me with such kindness, visited, called and took me out for coffee. Lots of coffee.)
Lake Mere magic
Then, one day, walking for pleasure again became possible. Subiaco Common beckoned.
‘Five hundred metres,’ I told myself. ‘I swim twice that far three times a week. I can do that.’
Still not completely pain-free, I practised ‘not limping’ the way the physiotherapist had taught me. Took the ramp, not the steps. Breathed deeply. Opened my eyes and looked around.
Subiaco Common, which my family calls ‘the party park’ because we meet and picnic there, looked amazing in the spring light.
The City of Subiaco takes great care of its residents. The parks are beautiful, the street art brilliant. Mulberry and olive trees thrive in strange, public places. Citrus line some streets.
As predicted, Lake Mere and its fountain in the centre of the Common sparkled.
Toddlers with faces stained from mulberries picked by their father wandered by, calling noisily. A magpie carolled. Pale green fronds of maidenhair fern unfurled among the stepping stones in the creek. The smell of freshly mown lawn hung in the air. Kids on school holidays played on the equipment. A board-skater stopped to let me pass. People with and without dogs greeted me.
My soul felt nourished. My aches and pains disappeared. Recovery, here I come!