Fragile Days

7 Jan

“We all have fragile days from time to time” I read in a book this weekend. I liked their use of the word fragile. I would probably tend towards being less gracious – we all have mean days, ugly days, days when we are out of sorts but cannot explain why, emotional days, dramatic days.

Fragile. But conveying the feeling that we are not perpetually frail people stuck in a life of fragility. We are strong vibrant people experiencing momentary fragility. This, I can live with.

A fragile moment last week. Running across the Mass Ave Bridge with a friend while sick.  I know, it was a bad decision and I didn’t run again until the weekend. I was so caught up in wheezing and breathing and coughing and dripping that I didn’t notice the bridge activity until he pointed it out.  “Someone jumped from the bridge last night” he said casually “That’s why the divers are out looking for the body.” And the memories started flooding in from that other cold night when a woman decided life was too hard to live and gave up. But I couldn’t handle it, not the images or the thoughts or the feelings so I pushed them away and continued focusing on my labored run. Sometimes, fragility can be pushed off.

A fragile moment this weekend. I can’t run 17 miles, I thought. I mean, physically, it is possible. Although maybe not after taking a week off to be sick. But I usually savor my 17 miles of aloneness, of keen thoughts and persistent perseverance. When it feels like a death sentence at mile 0.000001, you realize there may be some fragility to battle. So I lied to myself. “I’ll just run a mile…as long as I feel strong…just up this hill…until the end of this podcast” and at some point, I relaxed into the rhythm and enjoyed the warm sun on a mild winter day, the screams of delight from the sledding hill, the challenge of the nasty Arboretum hill. Sometimes, fragility is all imagined.

And sometimes fragility is in the words. In the recognition that to be a friend, one must say something that will be hard to hear. And then saying it and sitting there listening to your own voice speak thoughtful but pointed words while your brain cringes in a “this girl will never speak to me again because although I am speaking the truth and I hope it is done in love, I am pretty sure if I was on the receiving line, it would make me more stubborn than before.” Sometime we have insight into the excuses that others are making “I am not changing who I am, I’m not excusing his behavior, I am not letting him walk all over me” and yet it happens. Sometimes fragility is necessary to make us more sympathetic, to help us temper what we say and when we say it even when it must be said.

Fragility is often recognized by others before we are even aware of it. Swimming laps in the pool pre-sickness, delighted that one of my good friends was in the lane next to me. (Although there was mild irony at seeing him in the Medium lane while I swam in the Fast one. If there is one sure thing about our friendship, it is that I will never do anything faster than him. Except swim. My competitive nature detects a fragile chink in his athletic armor.) We swam and occasionally chatted at the end of a few laps. And then he said “Well, that’s it for me. I’m getting out now.” And I retorted with “Okay….Why did you tell me that?” “Because I am fairly certain that if I got out and left and didn’t tell you, you would be upset in some way.”  Ahh, the sting of truth. I had no response so I said nothing (there is a lot of wisdom yet incredible difficulty in carrying out this sentence). I like to appear strong, capable, independent. Yet I would have been annoyed had he left without a goodbye. My need for closure can be fragility at times. At others, a helpful locking of a door, checking off the final item of a to-do list, folding the last item of laundry. In accepting and allowing there to be closure, it is sometimes a strength.

We all have fragile days from time to time. We can all reflect on moments that our fragility broke through the surface and a friend had compassion. Which better helps us approach and confront fragility in others in a way that recognizes that people are not permanently fragile but fragile edges do exist in all of us.


One Response to “Fragile Days”

  1. Meg January 8, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Sometimes I wish the fragile days could be scheduled, don’t you? I do so love having a plan.

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