The Last Stretch, and much more

Nine & 1/2 weeks since 3/12 and eight & 1/2 weeks since operation “clean-up”. I guess you all know what that gobbledygook means? This is now the “last stretch” – or should that be the “time of the big stretch”? That is, the quadriceps muscle is now more-or-less firmly re-anchored to the kneecap and it is time to get some FLEXION into the knee.

The basic idea is to increase the pain to a point short of sending me through the roof or necessitating repeat surgery while, at the same time, stre-e-e-e-ching the fresh connective tissue which has built up around the new knee moorings and the injured muscle itself. This is done in two ways.

The first is to attach myself to a mechanical cycle which alternately stretches and bends my knee at a rate of about 15 cycles per minute while I grin and bear it for 40 mins or so. This ingenious torture is carried out at the Sports Science Centre under the supervision of two young physiotherapists, superficially charming and even solicitous but with hidden sadistic tendencies. The second way is a set of static stretching exercises taught to me by our excellent Simon’s Town physio. I set the amount of pain and I’m beginning to discover hidden sado-masochistic tendencies in myself. I now understand all those elaborate torture devices which sex fiends subject themselves, and others to: it can be fun and is good for you – no pain, no gain – or so they say.

Anyway I am indeed making progress. A full ninety degree flexion is my goal within 10 days and 120 degrees in another two weeks after that. At that point I will be declared functionally “normal” and sent on my way to sin no more.

One consequence of all this is that I have more time for reading and internet-surfing. While good for you, both these activities, especially the latter, can be addictive and need to be monitored. The problem with “internet-surfing”, as all those who have tried it will confirm, is that it is full of dark and dysfunctional elements which resonate with the same currents in all of us. The issue is not to avoid the internet (those nasty currents exist and need to be confronted and understood) but to develop a degree of immunity to them and to “balance” the negative with the more positive, life-affirming content also to be found in abundance on the web.

I do not know of any formula whereby this can be achieved. It is like riding a bike. One needs to get on and take your spills before you develop the necessary skills to do it properly. There is no end-point and, perhaps unlike riding a bike, one can lose the knack and find oneself on a mind-numbing journey through the most banal or virulently poisonous material for hours on end if your auto-monitoring sensors are not working properly.

Books are easier. Firstly one usually has to pay for books so that induces a sense of caution right at the outset. Even that is not fail-safe. Lured by the Buddhist-sounding title and low price I bought the Kindle edition of “Letting Go” by Dr David R Hawkins, and immediately found myself in a horrific morass of new-age speak and every “cultish” belief system invented by man. Avoid it like the plague; I’m trying to scrape it off my Kindle.

Much better are William Hazlitt’s essays (Table Talk: Essays on Men and Manners) which you can get for free from Amazon. Hazlitt believes that nothing succeeds like excess, so his sentences meander forever and he wanders off topic and then back again at will – often with an abrupt ending when he has run out of steam. But if you put aside these idiosyncrasies and his anachronistic style, one finds gems of insight often of a remarkably modern nature. Reading a past master of a couple of centuries ago serves to remind us that wisdom and insight are not the sole preserve of the latest best-sellers. He covers a wide range of topics but I suggest that you tackle him only when you are wide-awake and the reading light is adequate.

As for the Internet, here are 2 great sites: Brain Pickings which sends out a weekly newsletter with a wide array of essays and references to the arts and sciences with a particular focus on the visual and environment. Great for those with eclectic tastes who want a smorgasbord to choose from. Even better is Nautilus which comes out both on the Net and in more traditional print form. Also brilliant in combining visuals with ideas, in its own words “Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs.” It has won two National Magazine Awards in its short existence: a great antidote to the blues and and a wonderfully wide window into the world.

But to end this blog you may also enjoy this brief clip of dolphins in False Bay shot off our balcony a few days ago (Takes time to download and not very clear – sorry): 

And finally as a bonus after all this heavy intellectual lifting ( ? ) here is something really cute! – https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1085256058166612 (copy and paste in browser)

Mike Berger

 

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