I have cut away what no longer fits. Not always consensually, and certainly not always gracefully, but there it is. Roller derby is gone. I love it, would love to be skating and hitting people, and that is not who I am now. Exercise, physical strength is gone. I miss being able to push my body, to fill in the gap between what is and what I want to be by using my physicalness. Community is gone. Teammates, buddies, friends who I spent hours with each week I don’t see anymore. No, I wasn’t kicked out. Simply, so much of that connection was based on a sport, and for the past year I have not been able to participate in that sport. At all. It would have been different if I had broken a leg. I could have stayed involved, stayed Captain, stayed. But, it was my head that was broken, and just like that I was gone, it was all gone.
Endings suck. Always suck. Suck a lot. They are painful and they hurt. The sense of loss can be overwhelming. Does the pain of losing ever balance with the joy of gaining? No, not really. How can the pain of grandma’s death be balanced by the joy of a new nephew? They are such separate, unique things. They cannot be compared. Do my new excitements wipe away the devastating loss of my old friend, roller derby? No, not at all. They do, however, make the loss more bearable, more tolerable, less all-encompassing.
I have spent a lot of the last year experiencing the loss of roller derby and the loss of my body’s strength. I am tired of focusing on loss. Yes, the pain is not gone, but spring always – ALWAYS – follows winter. Let me tell you about my new excitements, the opportunities that have entered my life to fill the place left by loss.
I have already mentioned pottery. Seven weeks in, I am still enjoying it. I find working on the wheel delightful. I throw and trim and glaze and create new things. There is joy in that creation, in that physicality without thought.
Having one good thing, new thing, interesting thing is not enough for any person’s life. At least, it is not enough for me. I don’t have children, I don’t have close family nearby to automatically fill my life with meaning and commitment. So, I need something else. Perhaps others, too, need something else, regardless of kin?
One of my favorite things to do in my free time before I was injured was read. I enjoyed novels – sci fi/fantasy to be exact – and still do. What really drew me, though, what really engaged me and gave my brain concepts to play with and dissect were books about spirituality, about the spiritual transformation of self.
Since I hit my head, it has not been the same. I can’t read complex books, can’t enjoy them the way I once did. A page, two pages and my brain is full, my brain is tired. Holding a new concept clearly in my mind, considering it for hours and days and weeks, is no longer excellent entertainment. New concepts get dumped by the wayside when the next experience or emotion or problem presents itself, and aren’t picked up again until I am reminded of them by external stimuli. Maybe it is because I don’t have the extra mental energy. Perhaps it will change. Perhaps not. I don’t know.
What it means is that, right now, I need more than books and my own internal discipline to move forward spiritually. I need external stimuli – structure, commitment, community – to help keep me focused and on my way. I need other people, real, in-person people, to support me. And, it wouldn’t hurt me to make new friends, right? So I looked. I considered. And I found the Green Mountain Druid Order.
Now, I have never wanted to be a druid. Even a little bit. However, the druid path does fall within the pagan umbrella of my earth-based spirituality. And, more importantly, druids have an organized training system (3 years) and there is an existing Vermont community. The first year of training begins May 2015 – with a commitment to meet one weekend a month for six months, maintain a daily spiritual practice, and complete other homework as assigned.
Since discovering their website, everything is gently falling into place. I met the GMDO founders last week. They will be able to accommodate my mental fatigue by providing space for me to rest as needed during training. I received the registration paperwork on Friday. Today, I sent it in with a deposit to hold my place. Just like that.
Will spiritual study replace roller derby? No. Never. Will it grow me in a whole new way, in a whole new direction that would have never happened without my head injury? Yes.