Deep In The Grooves

Deep In The Grooves

During a Rolling Stone interview, Shania Twain conveyed a beautiful metaphor to encapsulate the period of time in our life when our personal world is amiss and we must encounter ourselves on a deeper level than ordinary awareness allows. She said, “Once I made it, it was, ‘Wow, I don’t have to worry about running out of gas until I get my next 20 bucks’, but that challenging part of life is still deep in the grooves.”

At the height of her stardom, Shania discovered her husband was having an affair with her best friend. The shock of this revelation forced her “deep in the grooves,” a metaphor for those times when we’re forced to go far within ourselves to access inner knowledge and strength that we cannot access otherwise. Twain lived in shock, depression and misery for quite a while. No amount of money and fame could keep her from having to deal with the deceit and devastation she experienced, which was further compounded by the echoes of trauma from suddenly losing her parents when she was a child. While we each have varying levels of suffering that we experience in our lifetimes, we all go through our own periods of grief, loss, anxiety and despair, especially when life delivers a stunning blow to our expected futures and forces us deep in the grooves.

There’s a certain illusion to life that compels us to believe we are in control of our destiny. To a certain extent that’s true, but at some point in our lifetime we will be confronted with the unexpected.  No matter how well we live, how conscious we are, how much we meditate or how much we believe in the Law of Attraction, the unexpected will remind us that we can only create modifiers to the nature that affects us. A chronic smoker can live to 100 years old, while a young man who’s dedicated his life to healthy choices can die of lung cancer. We all engage in a certain amount of self-deception, thinking that our happiness is under our control until an unwelcomed event challenges this thought and forces us to course correct.  The suddenness of the event is what shakes us, and the depth it reaches within us is what reshapes us. The result is often worth the suffering as we become better versions of ourselves in the process, and gain humility and wisdom to our own interaction with the greater forces that weigh in.

This subject in particular strikes a personal chord, as I have lately been deep in my own grooves. For many years I have struggled with back pain, uncertain of the duration, severity, and implications that this new struggle may impose on my envisioned future. At my core, I am a fun-loving and mischievous New Yorker who is active, engaged and always on the move. However, as my persistent back pain progressed, I had to come to terms with the possibility that my lifestyle, identity, and outlook was now being dragged about by forces that were unpredictable, challenging, and at times seemingly merciless. In response, I went deep in the grooves. I found myself submerged under the weight of failed remedies, grappling with my hold on coveted parts of my life that I now felt I was losing. Sleep became elusive, active hobbies became past-times, and work became a conscious and challenging exercise in a practice that had so recently felt like a natural and rewarding instinct. A part of me was always fighting the current, swelled with grief at the thought of having to abruptly accommodate my lifestyle and expectations to this new reality that I was still dubious of.

After almost two years of cycling through remedies, rehabilitations, and a chaotic vortex of swirling expectations and uncertainty, I eventually arrived at the conclusion I would need to undergo extensive back surgery. I was certain it would be a difficult recovery, but it had been so long since I had felt any certainty regarding my back, that having a path forward provided some temporary grounding, allowing a sliver of control and expectation into my life, which had recently started to feel like being tossed around at sea.

Those grounding moments, whether it’s discussions with family, care from a loved one, or a reluctant and tempered decision to see a surgeon, can provide precious moments of thought and reflection. They can also create a scaffold, providing some sense of orientation to the opaque mysteries of our own depths. Since the surgery, my entire outlook on life and aging has changed. I’m more accepting of my restrictions and limitations and more intentional about my future. That’s what happens when you go deep in the grooves, things change and, and if you keep climbing, you may just find yourself unexpectedly squinting into daylight.

Five Minute Articles For Your Consideration12 comments

  1. Pete di Girolamo says:

    I’m reflecting on when struggling out of the “grooves” is set back by an overlay of the “emotional twisties”…

  2. Larry says:

    Nice confluence of two blog posts, Pete! As you well know, resiliency and perseverance temper the struggle.

  3. Maureena Duran Rojas says:

    Hi Larry; It has been a long while since we’ve chatted.
    I enjoyed reading your article because I have recently gone Deep in the Grooves myself. It’s nice to know I’m not going deep alone. Both health issues and caring for my 95 year old mom has taken me there. In 2019 I was diagnosed with Autoimmune hepatitis C cirrhosis of the liver. My healthy body was attacking my healthy liver. My dad had an Autoimmune disease so I get mine by the way of genetics. As for my 95 year old mom she is fighting the aging process and it’s making her angry the kind of anger where verbal lashing out is involved. I love her but there are times I don’t like her. So, I can relate to your article. I’m making peace with my father and my body and I’m learning how to take care of it. My sister, niece and I who are her primary care takers have started a chat session to talk about our interactions with her. My face is turned upwards towards the sun.

    • Larry says:

      Thanks for sharing, Maureena! We all go deep in the grooves sometimes so I was hoping people would find themselves in my blog post. It’s not easy down there. Sorry to hear about your mom. I remember her feeding us Menudo one morning for a hangover. She was a sweet woman. Caring for her must be a full-time job, even with three of you doing it! The lashing out makes it that much harder. I hope she stops fighting it and starts accepting the transition. All of this while you’re fighting your own health issues. I love your attitude though, with your face turned towards the sun! I appreciate you sharing your story. Good to hear from you!

  4. Erin Toland says:

    I love this post Larry, it totally resonates with me as I am an utter control freak and really try to refocus my energy every day. I’m so sorry to hear about your back, I can relate as I have pretty bad scoliosis. Movement and exercise help me immensely, it would be very hard if I didn’t have that in my life. Thank you for sharing your journey! Sending love!

    • Larry says:

      Thanks for your comments, Erin. I remember you positing a very honest appriasal of your scoliosis on IG. I thought it was so brave of you to put yoursself out there with candor and vulnerability and then get on with it. I admire that quality and draw on it when i put myself out there. Love you!

  5. Naomi Weinstein says:

    A moving and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your struggle with back pain and your new outlook on life post surgery. Reminding you of Dr. Weinstein’s cautionary words: old age is not for the faint of heart. Wishing you all the best.

    • Larry says:

      Thanks, Naomi! I’ve heard it said that old age is not for sissies! Quite true and if lived correctly there’s so much to get out of it!

  6. Mary Ann Montgomery says:

    Larry, Thank you for this heart-felt blog. I’ve also coped with going deep in the groove in October when I lost two of my dogs, one suddenly and unexpectedly shortly after losing my best friend. For the first time since Covid struck and George died, I found myself cast into despair and questioning my assumptions about my future. I am still working on shaping what I can control of my life going forward, but it certainly helps to know I’m not alone.

    • Larry says:

      Hi Mary, so sorry to hear about your dogs. I know they and you are all part of the same pack. These events cause us to do exactly what you said, question our assumptions about the future. There’s always a clearing ahead so keep your head up so you can clearly see it when it appears.

  7. So sorry to hear about your recent struggles. We’ve all been there. It takes some heavy work to adjust your attitude to the new reality. It sounds like you are on the road to recovery. You know Paul has had 3 back surgeries & fortunately he is able to do everything he wants to do. I hope for the same outcome for you.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

    • Larry says:

      Thanks, Janet! We all go through these periods when we’re forced to go deep, and I completely agree with you that it takes some heavy work and a good attitude to get through it. I’m in pretty good shape now. I can walk over five miles at a time and can exercise for an hour a day. Paul told me he had four procedures, unfortunately it didn’t help his golf game. I appreciate you and your encouraging words on my blog and FB!

Leave a Reply