“Healing is not linear.”

Walking into the library this morning, I decided to start crafting a new blog post. Unlike last semester, I’ve noticed that ideas for blogs haven’t been popping into my mind as easily for posts, yet I’ve remained calm and hopeful that I will find my groove soon enough. Walking past the CIT desk, I noticed a new table on the main floor of the library. The table was covered with markers, small pieces of printer paper, and pieces of card stock with pre-printed positive quotes on them. One of these quotes specifically caught my attention. The quote read, “Healing is not linear.”  

The table was placed in the library to raise awareness and to help those struggling through sexual assault. I think that the table may also have been set up, in a broader sense, to help college students push through this semester and to make people smile with messages of kindness. While I can’t speak for other students in Geneseo, I believe that the table succeeded both in raising awareness and making people smile.   

Just as I was thinking about how difficult blogging has been, a quote seemingly fell out of the sky and landed right in front of me. Finally, I was eager to write again.   

The quote, “Healing is not linear” applies both to my own current life and to Ricky Rice’s life in Victor LaValle’s book, The Big Machine.  As a runner, I have learned to deal with injuries. At times, runners can exercise though small injuries, but when pain keeps reoccurring, it’s imperative to take time off.  This past indoor track season, I experienced troubling pain in both my foot and my ankle. Two days ago, I went to Geneseo’s athletic trainer and learned that I had plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. Trust me, both scientific terms sound way worse than they feel. I was told to take three days off from running, rest a bit, and then begin building my fitness back up. Three days is not long at all, and I’m lucky to have these injuries rather than season ending injuries, yet these small injuries have still set me back. Healing, however, is not linear. The process of healing these injuries will be long and aggravating, but I must take the time to recover properly. I know it will not be a linear process, but I am hopeful that I will be healthy once again.   

Similar to the unpredictable process of healing in running, Ricky Rice’s drug addiction in Victor LaValle’s book The Big Machine appears to be non-linear. In the beginning of the book, readers are introduced to Rice and understand that he has a drug addiction. While discussing drug addiction with Peach Tree, Rice thinks “I swore I’d been off for three years, ever since 2002, but he rightly pointed out that three years is a finger snap in the life of an addict.” (LaValle, 26) Although we learn that Rice has been sober for quite some time, he still clings to his heroin and never disposes of it. Throughout his time as an unlikely scholar so far, Rice has not used his drugs. While Rice appears to be sober and in control on the outside and in front of others, he continues to hide his heroin, his obsession, and constantly changes its location in his cabin. Multiple times throughout the novel, heroin controls his thoughts. For instance, during a moment of forgetfulness, Rice thinks, “But now I couldn’t find the damn things! I’d hidden them too well. I wrapped them in tin foil, I remember that much, then thrown the tin foil into a Ziploc bag. But what had I done after that?” (LaValle, 80) Although Rice appears to be healing from his drug addiction on the outside, he is struggling to cope with the addiction on the inside. His path of healing is far from linear, but that does not mean that Rice won’t be able to heal.    

To keep up with the cyclical theme of the semester, I also want to tie this blog post back to what I discussed in the first paragraph. This semester has been tougher than most for me, in terms of blogging and in general, yet it is important to remind myself that success in blogging, running, sobriety for Ricky Rice, and happiness is not linear. In fact, most things aren’t linear. There will always be bumps and setbacks, whether that be writer’s block, spraining an ankle, or giving into addiction. However, no matter how non-linear the process is, I truly believe that a person’s goal can still be achieved.  

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