‘This is too much’, I said to Jim, tears streaming as I squeezed my finger tightly hoping against hope if I held it hard enough, it would magically heal.
In fairness to myself, I REALLY jammed it. The kind of jamming that made me afraid to look at it for fear the end was not fully intact. Ten minutes later (I really did not have time for this😊), after running it under water, trying to stop the bleeding, and making the assessment that it was, in fact, both intact and not crushed, Jim gathered some first aid supplies and got to work. He tightly bandaged it and I was relieved to realize that if I left home right then, I would still be on time for dance. Even I had to snicker at myself as I drove up the Deerfoot Trail, one of Calgary’s major thoroughfares, trying to be on time, with my tightly bandaged, still bleeding, throbbing middle finger held high above my head. I was aware of the pulsing in my hand and grateful for the Band-Aids that were keeping it stable.
It’s astounding how a tiny bit of support on the outside, a Band Aid, can hold the body together until it figures out what it needs to do to take care of itself.
This idea of support has shown up in my life too many times this week for it to go unnoticed.
In the case of my poor middle finger, several simple real-life band aids did the trick.
In the case of Greg and his shattered collarbone, the surgeon applied a rather rigid ‘Band Aid’ in the form of a titanium plate; a support to hold the pieces of bone in place until the body is able to fully mend them together.
In the context of my work as a coach, I use supports all the time. Holding the belief that each of us is creative, resourceful and whole, I understand that we don’t need to be fixed. Yet sometimes we need others to hold a vision of ourselves for us that we are not yet able to hold for ourselves. We need Band Aids. Other times we notice ways we can uplift or support others in our lives. In these cases, we become the Band Aids; we provide the support.
The idea of support also arrived in the form of a couple of wonderful emails from my friend, Mark, this week. I’ve known Mark for about thirty years. First as a student, then as an observer as he went off to make his claim on the world, and now as a treasured friend. Mark reads my blog and as he was doing some ‘spring cleaning’ of his inbox, he came across a piece I wrote last year, Amazing Grace. In this blog, I describe my habit of acknowledging other runners and cyclists while I’m out doing my own training. Mark mentioned that it should have come with a warning – after reading it he went out for a run in Toronto and astounded more than one Torontonian as he waved and called out cheerful greetings! At any rate, this blog arrived at just the right moment for him. In his email he described the place he is at in his life. He’s at an edge, a place where he is ready to take some new steps. He has consciously removed some negative things from his life and recognizes that he wants to put some deliberate, positive structures in place. He said, ‘I feel very blessed to have the family and friends that I do. I've leaned heavy on some people over the last number of years and I'm looking forward to doing more of the giving and less of the receiving in the coming months and years.’ Mark has been taking Band Aids out of the box and now he is hoping to replenish the supply.
My final Band Aid moment arrived on Thursday when I took my bike out for a quick ride in our local Provincial Park. As I was climbing one of my training hills, I noticed a woman running up it. I had seen her about thirty minutes earlier. She looked to be training for a long-distance race. If I had to make a guess, I would say she was in her very late 70’s or early 80’s. I was astounded. As I passed by her on my bike I called out, ‘Way to go! You look fantastic!’ And she replied, ‘Thanks, I don’t feel it.’ Upon reaching the top of the hill I turned around to come down so I could do it all again and I saw her just about at the summit. Again, as I passed her, I called out, ‘You’re almost there. Well done!’ And she replied, ‘Thanks! Now I just have to do it three more times!’
It’s lucky I was headed downhill; had I been climbing I think I might have stopped dead in my tracks. Being a runner, I know all too well how far a little bit of encouragement can go and when I called out to her, just doing my normal thing, I hoped I was providing her with a bit of support. Throwing her a Band Aid. It turned out that she ended up being a Band Aid for me. I thought of her all day long, I’m still thinking about her. What an inspiration! She reminded me to keep at it, and to remember I’ve got enough in me for at least three more hills!
Support comes in countless forms. It comes in the form of a mother-in-law driving to rescue her daughters’ husband after his bike crash.
It comes in the form of kind ears, understanding the power of listening.
It comes in the form of updates from Cara from the hospital.
It comes in the form of tool belts and hammers, of baking and flowers. It comes dressed as phone calls and emails and smiles.
It comes in the form of a skilled surgeon.
And as praying hands.
Each of us has the capacity to be a Band Aid. To offer support to friends and not-yet-friends. And to perfect strangers running uphill.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What support is needed?’
Update: Greg had a successful surgery on Wednesday. The day was very long. He was finally home at about 9:45 in the evening. He has a plate running the full length of his collarbone. He’s immobile for now, has plenty of pain and good pain meds. He’s got a long recovery ahead but the outcome is expected to be a very good one. Thank you for all of the thoughts, well wishes and prayers.
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to choose the perfect size of Band Aid.