Doug Bruns

My Left Hip

In Life, The Examined Life, Wisdom on June 8, 2013 at 7:00 am

It’s two and a half weeks since I had a defective hip prosthesis replaced. I have progressed from walker to cane to, again, bi-pedal motion. Pulling myself around behind a walker was revelatory and akin to stepping into a fast-forward time machine. At one point I was visiting my aged father, both of us shuffling behind our aluminium buggies. Yesterday when I saw him (sans walker) he poignantly commented that it must be rewarding to make progress. Sadly, he reflected, progress is behind him.

The bum hip resulted from years of hard-ship athletics: competitive weightlifting, long-distance running, mountain climbing, and so forth. I spent substantial time in my (youthful) life ignoring the ancient call for moderation, shunning what the Buddha called the middle way. It was obsession or nothing, one obsession daisy chained to the next.

Two weeks prone in bed gives one opportunity for reflection.

* * *

“The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less,” writes Anne Dillard. I was greedy. Guilty. Moderation, the middle way–that is the new horizon and I consider it with something less than obsession and more akin to meditation, like a snake shedding its skin.

As I’ve mentioned before, the question is not how to live, but how to think. One precedes the other naturally, but the logic of such a thing too often escapes us and we trudge forward living only.

* * *

Anticipating the surgery, a wise friend asked, “What are you going to do with this opportunity?” What a marvelous question! And I mean marvelous in the sense that I marveled over it: direct and simple and challenging. I could not outline how I might wrestle this question into order, but I embraced it openly and without constriction. It was, and remains, my wide-sky mantra.

The thing is, a question sometimes carries more portent in suspension. The answered question loses potential in resolution. Perhaps that is why the big questions remain, being so big as to constantly provoke and unsettle, never giving the pilgrim respite.

To wit: What are you going to do with this opportunity called life?

  1. So the surgery went well and the rehabilitation period also sounds like it is on track. Good to hear.

  2. this is your brother Bill, a fellow member of the hip replacement fraternity. Got my shiny new hip on Thurs and have been pretty non-ambulatory ever since… looking forward to a return to a life of unfettered physical grace and certainly did not anticipate how debilitating these early stages of the recovery process would be (quite minimized by the health care folks). so now I’m re-watching Breaking Bad, reading and looking out at my gardens–your freind was right; despite the pain, this is an opportunity.

    • Brother Bill. Welcome to the club. Take it easy. I recognized early on that this opportunity includes the excuse of being a prone slug without the normally associated guilt. Embrace it, my friend.

      I’m coming up on three weeks Monday. I took a stroll into town yesterday. Slow but it went fine enough, though lacking in the grace you seek–but then grace was never my forte. You’ll be back in no time, and pain free to boot.

      Say hi to Walter for me–and thanks for checking in.

  3. Hello Doug,
    How are you doing? Been too long since you posted anything on here, so I thought I’d drop in and say hello. Hope all is well.


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