Stagnancy and Momentum

runner

I was jogging in the woods this morning which is atypical for me. 10 years ago (holy shit, I’m actually typing that) I was 17 and had just had my first knee surgery. It was a complete ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction operation that took me a year and a half to recover from.

In writing, “a year and a half,” is only thirteen letters and a fragment of a sentence. It’s five syllables. It’s nothing to a reader (most of the time) because you can breeze right over it – “Ah, ten years ago, mmm, a year and a half recovery, pretty average,” you might think. But, when you leave the doctor’s all drugged up doing daily tasks becomes dismal. A shower? What is usually a refreshing, quick way to start the day becomes an hour and a half ordeal of taping your knee so that your surgery bandages don’t get wet and setting up a chair to sit on while showering because standing is too dangerous. This always requires another human to help you along the way too, so something really personal becomes a shared activity.

Working became obsolete so I had to take some time off. The day would always begin with stretching my leg so that I could feel relaxed and comfortable. I’d pop a few painkillers, prop up my X-Box, and position some pillows for a pensive evening. The first day of kicking back with a banged up knee and nothing productive to do wasn’t so bad. The second day neither but… with each progressive day, the days began to feel longer. Seconds became minutes and minutes became hours. Soon – by the fourth, fifth, sixth day – I felt like I was losing my mind. Due to the difficulty, I hadn’t showered in a couple days. My skin felt itchy from painkillers, greasy from being unhygienic, and I wasn’t even past the first week.

That’s stagnancy. When all movement stops, time stretches, and boredom is abound. Two years ago, I had more knee surgery (MCL) and shoulder surgery (labrum, bicep tendon, and bone spurs).

But today, almost a full two years from my shoulder surgery and a few months past a year from my second knee surgery, I was jogging in the woods. What I thought about while running was the energy I put into running and the energy I received from running. Normally, running is pretty bad on your knees, but running in the snow softened my impact. I immediately thought of the jogger on the news (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98mBl9d0dew). But it really did, I felt it grip my feet as I jogged and my feet gripped back. However, when I’d take a moment to catch my breath and walk, I could feel my feet sink. Slowly, I’d pull my leg out of the clutch of the crystallized ice, then feel it sink deeper into a sullen, sink-hole of snow (“that’s stagnancy,” I thought). Overall, my knee felt good jogging in the snow. Then, I began to think about momentum.

Momentum, unlike stagnancy, is continual impetus. I thought about energy-in and energy-out. That, for example, all of the energy I put into the run would be returned to me after the run; I’d be breathing heavier, thinking deeper and clearer, and overall more awake. Time felt quick again. An hour and a half went by between heavy, asthmatic breaths and calm, contemplation by a lake without even thinking about it. And so I figured, these were the two modes of living; stagnancy and momentum. Stagnancy is easy to execute but slow. Momentum is hard to maintain but quick. Stagnancy has been a huge part of my life due to surgeries and setbacks, but I’m moving toward a momentous one.

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