What a week can hold
I have no idea how it actually happened. I couldn't recreate it if I wanted to.
Running on a leaf-thick fire lane, my dog Jackson trailing, I managed to kick a hard stick with first one foot, then the other, so that it spun around my leg and nailed the very point of my outside ankle bone.
It stung. In fact, I went down in a heap. J Dog trotted up and pretty much ignored me as I got up gingerly, staggered around a bit, then finished the run more or less pain-free.
The oddest aspect of the whole episode occurred hours later. After a normal afternoon and evening, I noticed the ankle suddenly starting to hurt. A lot. Not just on the ankle bone, but the entire lower leg and foot. I couldn't prop it up, ice it, anything, without major discomfort.
There are several pain scales that I use on a regular basis, thanks to the various haps and mishaps of my life. For instance, there are the Crashing Your Mountain Bike Scale, and the Slamming Your Fingers in the Car Door Scale. This one, this freak ankle thing, was registering on the Bone Marrow Biopsy Scale. I lay in bed, gritting my teeth until the meds finally kicked in that evening.
The next morning I was pretty much okay, though the whole lower-leg assembly remained tender for a few days. Bizarre.
A week later J Dog and I went back out on the trail to see how it felt. All systems seemingly were go, so we cruised along to our turnaround point, a small bridge over (usually) flowing water.
There we did our usual routine: I paused my watch and sipped from my water bottle while Jackson flopped into the stream, the Giant Mountain River Otter as I call him. Looking at the dog, and the water, and the fall light, listening to the quiet contented gurgling as the stream followed gravity toward the edge of the plateau, I felt a welling up of smile-inducing joy.
I can no more explain why that very familiar spot filled my soul so completely than I can tell you what really happened to my ankle. For someone who's spent most of his life overthinking...everything, it's ongoing work not to seek explanations. To let things be.
So I'm not going to try to draw any great lessons from the fact that one mere week managed to contain both that excruciating, stabbing pain, and also that life-is-wonderful experience on the bridge. Instead, I'll acknowledge and remember both feelings, and take several types of gratitude with me as I continue on the trail.