I have always been more cerebrally inclined than physically. Even though I sometimes reveled in my body (especially in my early twenties), I never really felt comfortable in it. The curse of the tall girl, all that slumping, all that trying to fade into the woodwork. Plus, I was raised by someone who saw danger around every corner. So when I was a child and would have been happy to run headlong down a hill or crash about on a bicycle, I was marinated in all the possible ways that pain might accompany such romps.
No wonder I buried myself in books. I might read about the highs and lows of the physical body, but I only experienced them second hand. I was a bookish girl who played the violin and wrote poetry.
Then this spring I had a health scare. Oh not my first, but perhaps the first that I actually took seriously, the first I came out of on the other side of thankful to still be moving in this physical plane. And I began to run.
If that’s what you could call what I was doing. Forty-six years old and I couldn’t run for a full minute. Sure, some of that was due to health issues, but most of it was due to never having pushed myself physically and fear of the continual possibility of falling over my own feet. Plus, I looked like a full-on dork in my saggy ten-year-old yoga pants and joggling out of shape body parts.
But I stuck with it…. rain, sun, busy, foolish, bored, triumphant, dismayed, bear on path, badly sprained ankle, etc. Seven months now. I bought a used treadmill when the weather (and the charismatic megafauna) might have shut me down for the season. I’m okay with looking dorky.
And slowly, I’m feeling more in control of my body. Today as my partner and I walked over icy rocks, I felt like my balance was better, my ability to control my own feet improved. The other day, I realized that I’m not out of breath anymore when I run, nor do my knees hurt going up the stairs. For the first time in my life, I am inhabiting my own body.
I’m thankful for how well it works (even after I’ve treated it so badly for so long). I’m thankful for the fact it carries me into the world with it’s cold wind, sun-squint mountain-tops, wood-smoke, chocolate pecan pie, warmth of my partner against me while I sleep, laughter of friends, music, and every other physical thing. Yep, I feel a bit like Emily Webb from Thornton Wilder’s great play Our Town, “Oh World, you are too beautiful for anyone to realize you.”
Thankful that I can realize you, oh World. Thankful.