Wednesday, June 17, 2015


I am not a runner. If you're ignorant or insulting, you could take one look at me and say it. "She's not a runner." But the state of my body is not necessarily a reflection of my life, my activity, or even my "health" as some would put it.

For reasons unknown my body started making cancerous cells. I didn't do anything, eat anything, drink anything, or experience anything to cause those cells to spring into life and then cause chaos within me. So some people will try to convince you that the external body is always proof of a person's intentions, or lack thereof--like I intended to be a certain shape or size.

Before I start to react to old messages, old things that make me feel ashamed (because I'm not!) I'll just tell you that I went to the doctor last week.

I'd been having some knee and foot pain, especially while I was "working out" (a term that sounds obnoxious, even when I'm simply typing it). I have a history of sprained ankles, sometimes spontaneously (as in, I spent an hour standing while singing, holding a microphone, and at the end of that hour I couldn't walk and the next day I got x-rays and my doctor told me my foot was bleeding internally.) Due to this unfortunate history, I wanted to see if maybe I was doing something wrong, and if I could fix it.

She took a look at my right foot and my right knee. The left side of me is fine, inexplicably. She laughed and told me it wasn't broken, as if I had expected it to be. I explained my ankle/foot injuries, the traumatic time I hurt the right foot on a mission trip and never got it looked into because directly after the trip I burst an eardrum. She said, "Well, you have weak ankles. Obviously. So you walk a little knob-kneed, and your ankle compensates, and then your knee compensates for the ankle. Also, you have to stop running."

And I'm a nice person so I didn't laugh at her, but I did hold up my hand like a stop sign to confirm that I do not run. Of course, then she asked what I was doing and I said, Kickboxing. If you know me, you know my face when I'm irritated but trying to be polite. Imagine that face.

This is turning into a long, boring story about a trip to my doctor, a woman who likes to assume things and interrupt me, so I'll fast forward: She told me to stop kickboxing or doing anything with my feet. I am allowed to swim, or bike, or stretch. In a few months, I might be allowed to do the kickboxing again.

I have reliable access to neither of the first two options, so I am left with... stretching.

Now before ya'll go into throwing advice at me (not my favorite thing) about yoga or some other mumbo jumbo, don't. I can take care of myself. I'll figure this out.

Because I know how to find alternatives. Because that's how we survive.

Now, I'm not happy about it. I love... love kickboxing. I explained to a friend last week that there's nothing as exhilarating or even empowering about releasing that sort of aggressive energy through a physical action. When I am fighting an invisible opponent, I am in charge of my body, and my feelings. I decide which emotion I'm feeling and its intensity, every time I cross-punch the air or kick my leg over my head... well, almost.

But now I have to find an alternative.

And it just reminds me of all those other things in life, those desires and dreams we are given, the things we long for and nearly reach but must inevitably give up on--however temporarily--in order to keep ourselves safe.

How many times do we start something and enjoy every moment of it, while we're basking in that experience, but afterwards... realize some sort of regret? Or perhaps a downfall that wasn't earlier considered?

How many times do we reach for something and take all the right steps, only to find we are not ready in some other fashion, or it's not the right time, or the rules have changed?

And in those times, do we give up? Do we bury the dream, stifle our desires, forget the thing which might make us truly alive...?

It's not easy to give up either, you know. It may look cowardly to run the other way, but it isn't, not if you're running towards something else. It's simply realistic. It takes a certain bravery to shelve the things we long for, or change the way it looks, and give in to secondary things, to put our energy into other people and other dreams, to find life and satisfaction and fulfillment in something new.

Just think of all the relationships that have failed. The lost jobs. The unfinished projects. The children that never were, the house that never became a home. And how everywhere, for all people, while they may regret for some time the thing they could not have, eventually everyone finds an alternative.

New relationships are formed. New jobs found. New projects conceived, started, finished. Children adopted. Other places become home. The alternative becomes more than second best, more than something you settled for. The alternative sometimes becomes the new dream.

It feels a little weird for me to make this analogy, basing it on kickboxing. (Although, at least it's not about running.) But the point is, even if I have to give up on the one thing that really made "working out" (barf) worth my time, I'm not giving up on it forever. I'm just not going to hurt myself in order to keep doing it. I'm going to find an alternative... even if that alternative happens to be yoga.