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Facing into the Wind Heading for Open Water

January 12th, 2014 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, can a compressed spinal nerve have a silver lining?

I’ve been offline, literally and figuratively, for a couple of weeks riding out a major episode with my chronic back condition. Those of you with back problems will be nodding your head, grimacing and thinking: Been there.

If your condition involves nerve impingement, you’ve probably come to fear that sharp, stabbing pain shooting across the low back as the muscles go into spasm. You know you’ll wake up the next morning with that agonizing, “Please God, kill me now” pain every time you move.

As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I try to find a silver lining or a lesson in the misfortunes I encounter. Admittedly, I was not thinking that way in the first few days when I was twisted like a pretzel and waiting for the pain medications to kick in.

A change in the weather here was the impetus for turning my thoughts in the right direction. A mild spell, after a few days of deep freeze temperatures, resulted in a dense blanket of fog that hung around until early afternoon. When the fog finally cleared and the world outside my 18th floor window re-emerged, I realized it had mirrored my experience.

Too often I permit myself to slip into a paint by the numbers, going through the motions approach to life. I was in that state of mind when the episode with my back happened. It was a short trip from there to being hunkered down on my couch in a fog of negativity.

Why me? Why always me? How long is this going to last? It could be weeks or even a month or two. The timing could not be worse. This is screwing up everything.

Now that I’m back on my feet and mostly recovered, I realize that two weeks is a small price to pay to be reminded how fortunate I am to have the life that I do. I had been rolling along in a fog of complacency not much thinking about where I was headed.

Silver linings often come disguised as metaphors we have to unravel. Perhaps that shooting pain across the low back, and the two weeks of convalescing that followed, was a shot across my bow to inspire me to raise the sails and plot a more exciting course.

Life only gets interesting when we turn our face to the wind and head for open water. The shoreline will always be there to retreat to when we need it. But wonders and spectacles are waiting just over the horizon. Such a pity not to go seeking them.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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