“I am living a fairly busy life.” I used to think so until a knee injury last July made a lot of time available to me and had me pondering how to best utilize all that extra, “free” time.
For the past 3-4 years, I had been gaining weight slowly but surely. While it hadn’t quite reached the pot-bellied levels generally associated government servants in India, I was – depressingly and slowly-but-steadily – going down that path. To counter that, I started swimming in the evenings and Badminton in the mornings this past summer at the Officers’ Club here. Everything was going smoothly until one fine day in July, Friday the 3rd to be exact. I was playing doubles badminton at the club and in one particular game, went forward to retrieve a drop shot, and – ouch! – twisted my left knee. A visit to an orthopaedic specialist confirmed that I had a knee injury demanding 6 weeks’ rest. To say that I was disappointed would be the understatement of the year. While I had never been a natural at Badminton – or any other sport for that matter – my game had improved by leaps and bounds by my own humble assessment, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. Getting injured also meant I couldn’t swim for the next 6 weeks, by the end of which, the club would close the pool for the year (: . I was looking forward to achieving my target of completing 2500 m course in one session and knew that my plans for that would have to wait another year.
Next day onwards, I had about 4 extra hours to use. To kill boredom, I decided I had to do something. So I made a mental note of the things I liked doing, apart from playing sports.
1. Reading: I have always been a voracious reader and feast on anything I can get my hands on to read, especially fiction. I had quite a few books and got a few more after the injury. In the 5 months post-injury, I read 11 novels where I hadn’t read 1 in the preceding 7 months. Those included the fabulous Faith-Hope-Charity Trilogy by Len Deighton, one of my all-time favourite writers. Book lovers know how fulfilling a good read is. An article in The Times of India’s Sunday supplement even compared a good book to a good lover. While I don’t quite think that way, I certainly feel very deeply attached to my novels.
2. Competitive exam preparation: I had a central-level exam coming up in a month’s time (the SSC Combined Graduate Level tier-I exam) when I got injured. While I had previously cleared a few competitive exams, lately I hadn’t fared too well in them. This was, of course, largely due to my lack of preparation and due to the fact that I probably wasn’t giving the exams the priority they deserved. The injury gave me the time and break needed for preparation.
3. Writing : Writing, like reading, has been a hobby right from my school days. In those days, comic books were a major influence on me and I tried to write a few stories heavily drawing from them and their style. While that phase passed without any productivity of note, the love for writing persisted. After watching Mission Impossible : Rogue Nation in a cinema hall, I wrote a review of the movie on my Facebook page which received a paltry feedback (something like 4-5 likes and a solitary comment from a gracious schoolmate). For comparison, my own photos receive at least 10 times more likes. I inferred that Facebook isn’t the place for long articles and columns (you might take me to be dumb for coming to that realisation so late! 😉 ). I needed to take a different platform if I wanted my views and writing to reach a wider mass. A bit of googling and thinking led me to WordPress, and on to this – the blog! It goes without saying that I’m infinitely happy I made the transition.
4. Catching up with old friends: Now while I wasn’t so busy earlier that I couldn’t get in touch with friends, I now took out time specially for them, for all their niceties and silliness. I also visited my brother for a weekend, twice. And I strengthened the bonds with a couple of others who used to be just acquaintances earlier but whom I now count among my closest friends. All thanks to the communication.
I resumed playing badminton in the last week of August after resting for 7 weeks and after playing for 10 days, promptly got injured again on 3rd September, a Grade – I ligament injury in the same knee, sustained in the same manner too. Apparently I got too greedy. Seeing my body respond painlessly to the exertions of the sport, I played one game too many and while going to retrieve another drop shot, twisted the knee again. My negligence also manifested itself in the way that I had left my knee unprotected, without any kneecap pad. While I was lying on my back on the court, writhing in agony with my fellow players telling me it was all right, I knew deep down right then that I was going to be missing the action for another 6-8 weeks. Again!!! Sure enough, I got an MRI done and the specialist asked me to take a 8-10 weeks – minimum – rest this time. I started following up on my hobbies and works again. I started the blog within a week and a few days later, got the news that I had cleared the CGL tier-I exam. The preliminary stage done, I appeared for the mains on 25th October, clearing that in the results declared this month. Plus I got 94.xx percentile in the CAT (Common Admission Test) exam too and am following through on the admissions now. So yeah, it was a time well-utilized.
While I understand that reading, writing and preparing for competitive exams might not be most people’s idea of fun, the point I want to make here is that it is important to do what interests you. Indulge yourself. If you have time at your disposal, do things that make you feel better. Take a trip to that relative’s home that you’ve been procrastinating. Go for that Goa trip that’s been on your bucket list for the past 4 years. Help out the underprivileged children in your neighbourhood. Heck, go on a shopping spree if the whim takes you. And if you pause and ponder for a moment, the habits I’ve suggested can be taken up anytime, not just when you’re injured. In general, cultivate a habit that is long term and that has positive influence on you and your near and dear ones. Life will feel much more satisfactory that way.
Update: I resumed playing in November, eight and a half weeks since the injury, and despite taking all care and precautions, got injured this January, again! I’m convalescing now and hope to start playing next month. Life has no final results before death – being dynamic and ever-changing – but, and this is crucial, who doesn’t like a happy interlude in a big book. Fingers crossed. 🙂
Share your thoughts and experiences on injuries and recuperation in the comments section. Thanks for reading.
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