Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

On the Happenstance of Luck and the Circumstance of Bliss

tea cosy 16-08-16


There is no reason one person is lucky and not another. No reason that Tuesday morning at 8:15 I opted to ride on the sidewalk – the safe alternative, right? – and not stay on the street.

This decision required riding over the slight bump of the low curb, which in turn caused my sunglass case to bounce out of my basket and land on the sidewalk. It hit the exact spot where my front wheel would engage and lock and skid. The only thing controlling the bike was the blue plastic die hard case (why didn’t it crush under the wheel?) and it seemed to have the ability to speed up the bike as well, before I veered left and landed, femur first, on the high curb of the sidewalk. I felt my leg snap and saw the bruise I have learned about in teacher First Aid training grow like a cartoon Easter egg.

I think I screamed after I took out my phone and turned off “The Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole” and fumbled to unlock my screen to call Veronica, but all the while I was thinking, No, how could I get in her car? In the two seconds it took for these thoughts to flow, I was screaming and wailing and flipping my head back and forth on the sidewalk as if I could muster the power to turn back time two minutes, just two minutes, just one minute, and take the stupid glasses case out of my basket where loose objects cause an obvious hazard.

Hazards are never obvious to we who live hazard-free lives. We, the lucky ones. Because I was lucky. My thigh bone broke in two, but my knee was not smashed to smithereens, neither was my hip. My helmeted head was the last to land, with a gentle clomp. This is Know-Not-Your-Neighbor-Norway, but a horde of bicyclists and motorists stopped to help. One man knelt and put up with my keening while he informed emergency services and held my hand. They don’t emphasize that enough in First Aid training – hold the hand. If you don’t know what else to do at the scene of an accident, put your hand on a shoulder or head or arm. And don’t forget the blanket.

Ordeal over, I now have a steel rod in my thigh acting as a bone, and replacing much of the marrow in that part of my body. Rest of body: take charge, compensate. There is nothing like an accident like this to make you aware of an essential truth: you are a bag of bones and muscle, much water and minerals; caring for this little sack of your body is the first most obligation you have in life. It holds you for all you are worth. Take care of it.

I remember a nurse, at my baby daughter’s first check up, saying ‘she’s just a little sack of nerves’. That was the visit where they see if the baby lifts her feet from a prickly fingernail, arches her back at a tickle down the spine. At the time I was offended that this miracle child, an angel incarnate, as old as the universe, was being referred to as a sack of nerves. But I see now that what the nurse said is only the truth. For all the universe contained in a person, for all we are in this world, we can only be seen and touched and dealt with in this little sack of the body.

I was lucky on Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. There were people who died that day, unexpectedly, many from unforeseen – and, like mine, avoidable with foresight – accidents. I wasn’t one of them. I get to go on taking care of this body that houses me. Whoever I am, it is not the body. But whoever I am is only in this world through this body. I thank and praise it for seeing me through this foolish escapade.

It is a good thing sometimes to be shown that luck is not always in the form of ‘nothing bad happens’. I was lucky to fall and break – only my leg. You can never be too old to learn something new. On Tuesday morning I told Veronica, “leave my tea light on, I’ll have a cup when I get home… it won’t burn down the house.” Tea is our morning ritual. I wake up first and make a pot of PG Tips and slices of ginger for her, a teapot of PG Tips and cardamom and cloves for me. They brew as I unload the dishwasher. The first cup is always the most delicious, sweetened just a bit with soya milk or cream and honey.

I went downstairs and put on my shoes, then the clear thought struck me: you don’t know that. It was true, the only way to know that my teapot and wool tea cozy with a candle underneath did not pose a fire hazard was to put the fire out.

I went back to the kitchen and blew the candle out. I could deal with tepid tea at ten o’clock. That little double check is one I will do with my bike, and other things, from now on, knowing more viscerally than my previous theoretical nod of agreement: accidents can happen.

I have not had a cup of tea since, but on my second day in the hospital, Veronica brought me my teapot in this drawing. What a treasure. Oh, the glory of small pleasures, and the undeserved luck of we who get to experience them together. I’ll be home from the hospital someday soon, with only a broken leg. Veronica will make the morning tea. That first cup is going to taste heavenly to this most earthly body.


This entry was posted on 20/08/2016 by in Life in Norway, moments of unexpected beauty and tagged , , , , , , .
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