Thursday, January 30

working it out

Well, I've had a week to sit around sulking about my limitations. But I have a low tolerance for self-pity, in myself or anyone else, so on my first day home, I went to the gym.

Not one to be accused of being a gym rat, I felt like a bumbling novice trying to figure out how one steps onto the stair stepper and then for the next five minutes (yes, that's as long as I lasted) being fully convinced that I was stepping backward.

Then after making several rounds through the weight machines, studying the multi-step visual directions complete with figures of highlighted muscle groups, I decided to ask for help.

Rey, the gentlemanly man in charge, had some spare time, so he agreed to take me on, though I had the distinct impression that he was doing me a great favor. 

I followed Rey from machine to machine as he explained the mechanics, then took notes on weight settings. Suffice it to say, nothing passed 30 lbs., so there's room for endless improvement. 

Obviously safety was of utmost importance to Rey as he consistently warned me not to do too much and hovered about in case I lost my balance. He seemed very concerned about my balance. I tried to stay within his expectations, but I couldn't help showing off just a bit. I refrained from showing him pictures of my aerial endeavors. 

He must have been impressed, though, because he shared with me that he was a polio survivor and had achieved remarkable strength in his legs, though they remained stick thin. He also had a spinal deformity which causes him daily pain.

"I just learned to live with it," he said.

'Just learn to live with it' is a phrase I've come to loathe, especially when someone else pronounces it over my life. 'You just learn to live with it!' I find myself wanting to snap, 'I have bigger plans.'

And I do. But truthfully isn't that what we're all doing every day? Learning to live with it, whatever it is? Primarily, it is being human, constricted to a body and a reality that never seems to be enough.

I guess instead of learning to want less and be satisfied with enough, I'm really just learning to live with my own expectations, no matter how irrational they might be. They are haughty and elitist much of the time, but they are also genuinely desiring to inspire and make a difference. I'd rather learn to be friends with my expectations than enemies.

Last night at aerial rehearsal, I pushed myself too hard, as usual. But I also spent considerable time sitting on the safety pads, watching the achievements of my companions and trying not to entertain envy or frustration.

I'm just learning to work it out.