Twist & shout

We are only at the year’s ninth month, and already 2019 has been, for me, a year of broken things. It began with the broken furnace, then the water heater and the entire water handling system (we have a well); then the septic pump gave out, and the stove broke, too. During the second, and longest, heat wave, our central air conditioning unit fried itself with a snap and sizzle. We had plumbing under the kitchen sink to replace, and hail damage to the roof and porch railings. Also broken hearts at the deaths of people we wanted to keep in our lives. And a few days back, I twisted my foot and damaged a metatarsal muscle–now I, too, am one of the broken things.

It’s “an unusual injury” according to my physician, in that the way I rolled my foot and twisted led to damage (inflammation, at this point) to the flexor digiti minimi brevis muscle, which is not one of the foot muscles people usually injure. While not serious, it’s painful and slow to heal. The first weeks of the semester have arrived, and here I am stumping around campus with a wrapped-up foot and a crazy-busy schedule.

Endeavoring to be mindful of the moment and keep equanimity in my life proves difficult, but I have been working at the challenge by asking myself how we measure our losses and whether there’s any benefit in doing so. After all, that I possess enough things that can break demonstrates that I have considerably more comfort in my life than most human beings on the planet; so who should care if I rant? On the one hand, measuring loss seems judgmental and arbitrary–and there’s no way a broken cooktop can be assessed against a friend’s death. Yet we do need to make some kind of accounting for loss, because if we never acknowledge it, we smother compassion. Bearing witness to our brokenness, our losses, our fears, permits us to feel with others and with ourselves.

The temporary rant serves a purpose, as long as it is temporary: a shout of frustration, irritation, and grief that can, after its release, allow us to settle into forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance (quite a twist in another direction).


Twist: Yin & Yang

Click here for a Tricycle essay by a roshi about the Three Tenets and bearing witness toward acceptance.


For the Isley Brothers’ “Twist & Shout!” click here and work it on out. I, however, will not be twisting for awhile.  😦




13 comments on “Twist & shout

  1. Lou Faber says:

    Broken things can be healed or fixed. Never quick enough, but time is a relative concept in our hands. I feel for you, but know you are resilient. And now it is back to staring at spaghetti models and wondering if our only present home or our new home under construction will survive Dorian. But we soldier on as long as we can, for that is not only our lot, it is our life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ian Haight says:

    Hey Ann,

    I knew some of this but not all of this. Just wanted to say…yeah. You have borne it all well from what I can see. I know how hard those house issues can be having experienced all of them but to have them all come in one year is really difficult.

    Just wanted to let you know I heard you. 🙂



    Liked by 1 person

  3. KM Huber says:

    Not acknowledging loss does smother compassion. I know this one well for I once lived it but compassion is quite resilient or so it has been my experience and for that I am grateful. Like you, I find myself more fortunate than most yet a good, solid rant does clean the cobwebs and what is left is a new life lens, beyond loss as it were.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Ann E. Michael, Twist & shout […]


  5. Dick Jones says:

    Measuring our losses. I’ve found this process to be an inevitable consequence of ageing. Last week a friend died of myeloma, a cancer whose progress is measured against monthly loss of function. A powerful sense of my own mortality is frequently by my side, unbidden and insistent. But you’re entirely right: without this accounting,elective or involuntary, that extrapolation from our own shaky state of being towards compassion for the vulnerability of others is the harder to make.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I lost a friend to multiple myeloma some years ago, and now my father is living with the disease. So that sense of small losses and larger ones stays with me constantly; the work involves allowing such pain to lead to compassionate action.


  6. […] it was not the most sensible thing to do, given my sore foot, but I had planned a trip to Poets House for a Finishing Line Press-sponsored reading by James Ragan […]


  7. Fer Garcin says:

    Brilliant. It will take me 2 lives to read all your writings but it’s been a good suprise to find your blog. Loved two poems I have read. Broken Things in my life too for 2 years. My mom used to use a walking stick, Now she uses a walking frame and I use her cane. The process…;)
    PS: for the complete spanish translation of Barbara’s “Silent Type” I sent it to her. Or else you can get it thru this link:
    PS2: Why you would need the spanish translation if you have the original?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] last week when I decided I had better tackle the weeds in my strawberry patch. Still hobbled by a foot injury, I figured weeding the berries was a task I could manage sitting down. The job seemed daunting, […]


  9. […] more broken things, from which (see this post) we may encounter or derive good words. The most recent break happens to […]


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