It’s been a long, hard week. My right hand looks like a large wrapped club. My pinkie and ring finger have been wrapped together for stability and comfort, making it look like like I’ve devolved from five digits to four.

I’m currently overwhelmed with what I can’t do. The list grows daily.

My main meal consists of toast with peanut butter. It only takes me about 15 minute to make, if the bread isn’t too deeply buried in the fridge and if the peanut butter isn’t too stiff. (It’s “natural-style” peanut butter, so you know what I’m talking about.

Typing is extremely difficult. Let me qualify that. Typing accurately is difficult. For every letter you see, about five wrong keystrokes gave up their little lives. In fact, halfway through this post I accidentally erased the whole thing.

Three surgeries and two foot injuries in seven months are taking their toll. I’ve gained back half the weight I lost five years ago. And now my back is going out from lack of activity. I saw a physical therapist yesterday to begin treatment for my shoulder. (The muscles are “asleep”–they go into deep “protection mode” in response to the extensive surgery. It actually feels like I’ve had a stroke.)

The therapist gently lectured me about the importance of exercise and healthy diet. I was indignant at first–“Hey, you’re preaching to the choir here!” Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Oh. Yeah. I don’t look like that choir anymore.

It took years to turn my somnambulant lifestyle around, to go from bitter shadow artist to creative force, to transform from a total couch potato to an athlete.

It took five months for it all to dribble away.

So I’ve been sad, and tired, and gently weepy. Not a pretty sight.

Two days ago, I reread the book series His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. The first book is now a movie, The Golden Compass.

It’s the perfect book for me to read right now.

The themes are complicated yet simple.

Stories matter. Love, kindness and courage matter. Truth matters.

Life matters.

The final book brings these themes home with a bang. Simply being alive–able to partake of this world through our senses–is such pure joy, even angels weep with envy.

“Dust”–the mysterious “dark matter” that is the mysterious heart of these novels–is more than simply “life essence”, more than simply consciousness. It is self-awareness–living beings being aware of their own existence, and rejoicing in that awareness.

It is from this self-awareness that all human art and industry springs.

Our purpose in life is to enjoy and love life itself. To respect other living things. To love the world we are in, and do our best work in it. To be kind, to be patient, to be creative.

I’m telling this badly, and I’m sure I’ve skipped over the deeper issues at hand. I’m in pain even as I write this, and can’t wait to finish typing so I can go lie down for a minute.

And I can’t pretend for a minute I can hold on to this concept for very long–that even this pain and emotional discomfort is to be marveled at, because it means I exist.

I’m not that spiritually evolved, I’m afraid.

But this book has given me an emotional respite, a place to rest.

I marvel at what I can do right now.

I can still write. I can still move about, however awkwardly. Even as I think, the list grows by leaps and bounds.

There is still so much I can do, to much to be grateful for, so much to rejoice in.

My body can heal, and I will get better.

That alone is a miracle. A gift.

Tonight I head to a friend’s house for an informal yoga session. I won’t be able to do much, I know.

But I know, too, that whatever I can do will be enough, for now.

Breathe. Breathe.