Sometime, while you’re waiting at the dentist’s office or in a DMV line and have nothing better to do, take an inventory of the times in your life when you’ve had a serious injury or illness. Note the time of year; perhaps even the month if you remember it. If you’re anything like me—and really, I pray you are not, for your own sake—you may notice that there is a time of year that appears to be a bit more “dangerous” than the norm. I’m really not sure if I’m alone in this, but I usually find that where there is one, there will be more.
August is my month. I’ve learned to merely expect it. During the various Augusts of my life, I have experienced: scarlet fever, chicken pox, blood poisoning, stepping barefooted on a carpet tack strip (resulting in the appropriate follow-up tetanus shot), the “Attack of the Killer Mosquitoes” incident, a mysterious GI virus that caused me to lose 18 pounds that month, pneumonia (yes, pneumonia in August), electrocution, a fractured elbow, a fractured femur and a severed ACL in my left knee.
It’s a short list, and I’ll admit that not every year is awful. This year, I got off practically Scot-free with merely a bout of food poisoning that only took me out for a week and helped me lose six pounds. I’m just getting over that now and feeling incredibly grateful that this was an easy year… as I knock repeatedly on some very solid wood.
Why does this happen? I have absolutely no idea. Of course, I have my theories about it, but that’s all they are: theories.
My first theory is based on the law of patterns. The universe revolves in a series of patterns, all intertwined with each other, all forming new patterns. This is why—in my opinion—there is some credence to astrology as a science of personology. It’s about patterns: The great patterns of the universe forming the never-ending story. History repeats itself because of these patterns. Mankind continues to learn and relearn the same lessons because of them. Our lives intertwine like the interweaving threads of a great loom… all of us creating a part of a much grander pattern which only the Master Weaver can fully see and fully appreciate.
My second theory is no good, really. I’ve thought that perhaps it may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, this August-is-a-crappy-month-for-me idea. You know, “I think something bad is going to happen, so it does.” No. I debunk this idea by the simple fact that I didn’t even notice the “August coincidence” until the ACL incident. Ironically, I haven’t had a major horrible-happening since I took notice. So, if anything, the opposite is true: That I notice and acknowledge that August-is-a-crappy-month-for-me seems to have dissipated the negative karma somewhat.
Which leads me to a follow-up theory: By acknowledging that August-is-a-crappy-month-for-me and being willing to accept the inevitable, I may very well be changing this life-pattern even now as I write and speak about it. One can only hope.
To be fair, a third theory would be that there is absolutely no correlation whatsoever with the month of August and the painful events of my life: That these are merely coincidences and I’m just looking for something sensational to write about. Yeah, right. I don’t believe in coincidences.
Everything happens for a reason— EVERY thing. It’s up to me to decide how deeply I choose to participate in whatever happening is happening around me right now, and what I choose to learn from it or what I may choose to change. How much truth will I allow myself to see, to hear, to feel? How much will I choose to block?
Most of us go through life with at least a partial set of blinders on. It’s for self-preservation purposes, really. We’d go crazy, otherwise. But I find it refreshing— even if for just a moment— when someone knocks my blinders askew and I get to see a glimpse of what I’m blocking.
Perhaps, this is theory number four. August isn’t really a terrible month at all. It’s a great month! After all, “August” as a root name means “great” or “venerable”, derived from Latin augeō (augere), meaning “to increase”. I get the opportunity to get hurt. I get injured, the blinders get knocked sideways. I get sick, the blinders fall off a little to the side. These moments of weakness and pain teach me to see in new ways.
Recuperating from the ACL surgery was hard, I won’t lie. As it involved a bone fracture as well, it took many months of therapy and I never did fully recover from it. But it taught me about pain. I learned that with pain there is only one way to deal with it, and that is to accept it. The harder you fight it, the stronger it becomes. But embrace it— allowing the pain to envelope you and to flow through you— causes it to dissipate. When you ask nicely, pain will respond in kind. While I would never willingly hire him, Pain is a tremendous teacher; and I am wiser for having known him. I should name him August.
Maybe this is one of the reasons why the older we become, the more comfortable we are with wisdom. Pain and wisdom walk hand in hand along the road of life. I wish Godspeed to all who walk with them.
For me, I’m trying— really trying— to see more without the blinders. It’s hard, because it’s scary and I sometimes don’t fully understand all that I see. But I figure that if I choose to move the blinders myself, without the help of pain, then maybe August will simply become a month like any other. Or better yet, every month will be new and different and exciting. Every day will be its own. And if I’m really lucky, I might even get to walk hand in hand with wisdom while pain takes a step behind us.