One request, one promise

Was talking to my best friend the other night. There wasn't a good word for what he feels when reading me as I strut and exult about all the physical stuff I'm doing for the first time, when very real and painful boundaries keep him from dreaming of experiencing a hard run, a long bike ride.

It sucks to be left out of something joyful.

When every kid but you is climbing on the monkey bars, because you don't have the upper body strength to pull yourself around, so you practice all alone after school on the empty playground, but you still can't seem to move as they do, confidently and without demoralizing pain. So you sit and watch.

When all the other players are running suicide drills and the coach makes you stop because your face is red and you're wheezing and he's afraid you're going to apoplexy like an overripe tomato right there at half court. So you sit and watch.

It sucks to sit and watch when your heart wants that joy. It's on their faces. It's right there. And it's apart from you.

I think of my friend who, after the malaria, found her body lapsing into a continual struggle with debilitating and exhausting illnesses her doctors couldn't identify. I think of my friend to whom every touch on the skin feels like a bruising blow. I think of my father, whose ailments robbed him of running, which he loved, even as he had just dared dream of entering his first race at age 68.

He had the entry forms.

I won't ever tell you that if I can do this, anyone can. I won't say that to you.

What I will tell you is what I hope. I hope that there exists a path toward your joy in your body, toward the ecstatic feeling of absolute connection to your body. There are a thousand paths, many of them subtle and unassuming. But your body and its joy are yours alone. No one can tell you which, if indeed any, path might wrap your body in delight. But I hope that you more than stumble across it.

Whoever you are, reading this, you can tell me when you stretch out your hand now and then, just to see what's there. I'm selfish. I want to share and witness joy should you discover something wonderful.

If you cannot reach, not in any direction, not a millimeter — if your body will not let you — I dare not ask for the right even to lay my hand on yours, to touch the courage that your body requires.

I simply promise not to take my own movement for granted, nor complain of it. I promise to remember.


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