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Insights / October 23, 2017

In Between

By Kyle Werstein

This year has been a year of in-betweens for me.

Between relationships.
Between homes.
Between depression and happiness.
Between life and death.

Some time in late July, maybe a week after my 25th birthday, I once again made the three hour drive from my parents’ house in rural Wisconsin to the hand surgery center in St. Paul for a visit with my occupational therapist. Having previously shed my bulky, plaster cast in favor of a sleek, Darth Vader looking plasticine splint, I was excited to finally move my fingers again. The healing protocol for my bike accident dictated that I refrained from moving my fingers in any way until told otherwise. When you’re a designer and a musician and someone who generally enjoys buttoning their own pants, keeping your fingers still for a month is a non-trivial task.

My occupational therapist unhooked the velcro straps from my splint and asked me to rest my elbow on the sterilized foam mat that sat atop the exam table. Then, she easily made a fist with her own hand and asked me to do the same with mine.

Nothing happened.

Instantly, I was reminded of the grimace of my surgeon when he informed me that I might not ever play guitar again. I was taken back to the moment when I started to lose consciousness on the sidewalk of University Avenue. The therapist’s voice brought me back to the clinic.

“I didn’t expect you to make a fist on your first try – these things take time.”

Last week, I balanced working on an app to crowd source police accountability with working on my band’s second album in California. Mere months ago, the thought of me writing again with my left hand, much less fretting a guitar, seemed like a pipe dream.

In the in-between days, I found the strength to embrace the volatility of life.

Recognize that emotions pass.
Recognize that humans can adapt.
Recognize that you can adapt.

The only thing we can can control is the way we react to any given situation. When my occupational therapist instructed me to do 6 hours of stretches a day, I complied. I gave myself a goal. I said, “No day is a given, but I know what I want.” Each night before I slept, I imagined how it would feel to hold a marker, to lift a guitar, to use chopsticks. Whenever my hand would stop just short of a fist, I would embrace the impermanence of my injury and remind myself that at one point I couldn’t move my hand at all.

If life can be revoked in an instant, it can improve in an instant, too.

Moment by moment.

Maybe you’ve never experienced a life-changing accident like this. Maybe your year wasn’t filled with one destabilizing event after another. Nevertheless, your experience is just as valid as mine. You harbor the ability to embrace the in-between, just as I did.

Maybe you’re between projects.
Between Asana tickets.
Between days.

Whatever you’re in the middle of, embrace the uncertainty of it.