I have a friend who is arm-wrestling cancer. What she might lack in bicep-strength, she makes up for with a great selection of wigs, eyeliner, frilly undergarments, and a vision of a gopher-free garden, a garden where loofahs grow up to sing songs of exfoliation. I’ve been thinking about her all day, about a brief exchange of words between us.
Today I realized that issues of health often slip into my writing and that I don’t intend them as gonging sounds of drama and doom.
Admitting these moments on the page (I’m tired, I’m in pain, I’m sick…again) has mostly been a bold declaration and exorcism that these are the conditions I’m untangling myself from. They are the conditions that have shaped me but they are not me.
For years I was ashamed about struggling with a body that doesn’t keep up with my mind and spirit. The more I acknowledge this on the page, the more I turn with compassion and gratitude to the strengths that these challenges are developing in me.
I do not know what this will look like in six months, a year, two years from now, but I do know this: every year I grow healthier and stronger than I was the year before. I haven’t leapt over my limitations in a single bound, they are still present, but I’m no longer wasting energy battling them – at least, not as much as I used to.
This blog is mostly for me, I realize this. There is a power in confession and witness, so tonight I come to the page and I write:
I am learning to rest when my body asks me to. I am learning to listen to my dreams – especially when they shout and throw frogs at me. To invest in those around me wisely. To not argue with fools, not even in my head. There is a soft spot in my heart where all of our foolishness resides and I know if I step too close to its edge, I’ll sink in.
My body has taught me to apologize when necessary, to walk away when no apology is necessary; to not care what the world thinks because the world is often thinking of itself, and that I am one of those chattering voices that make up the world.
As often as I am able, I try to be a voice at peace with itself.
Today, I’ve been thinking about this lesson: When a woman with a great selection of wigs, frilly undergarments, and a knowledge of eyeliner, reaches out her hand in the form of words, you take that hand.
You listen carefully to hints dropped about braiding wildflowers into crowns. Stories of how to trail toilet paper like a bridal train on days when the sun is high and bright in the sky.
It’s how to win the arm-wrestling match.