"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is to be understood." ~Marie Curie
Famous quotations are postcards from someone else's trip. They can adorn margins, shelves and tack boards, or they can inspire a person to investigate the true location herself.
Yesterday I laid my hands in various postures on a glass square under an x-ray machine, first my right, then my left. I turned and angled them, splayed fingers like a sun as directed, under a long red light-line shining down from the machine as a guide for straightness. I imagined my basal thumb joints under skin and flesh. Are they worn carbuncle stones that glow red like the light striping my arm? After each placement, three for each hand, the technician and student hid behind a wall to protect themselves from the radiation.
When I was done I left the lab, noticing the Radiology sign over the door, and I remembered a visit to Marie Curie’s burial crypt in the Panthéon in Paris. She is one of only two women among the notables of France to be entombed in the Panthéon, for accomplishing, among many things, the discovery of radium and the use of radiology in medicine. So many graves and monuments of the famous to visit and contemplate what they conquered or were conquered by, including Les Invalides, where Napoleon lies buried inside his seven Matryoshka caskets, as if he still had enemies to be fortressed against beyond death.
I don’t want to only be a tourist of someone else’s life (and death). I want to understand the country of myself. I don’t want to wish I were there. I want to wish to be here. What are the frontiers in this body, this heart, this mind that mark my journey?
The doctor called and told me I have osteoarthritis. Now that I understand the source of the pain, I can explore how to overcome it.