I love to move. Dancing, lifting, cycling, walking, stretching and more: there is a vital delight in feeling myself move in space, in tandem with music, nature, friends, strangers, heartbeats… Now, post-op, I find the joy in increasing the strength in my legs, the length of my stride and the depth of my determination.
Like waiting out the emotional pain of heartbreak, there’s no quick fix to bypass a physical recovery. Oh no. Incrementally, with meticulous care and the occasional oops, there is progress.
Most of the time, I am more amazed than ever by this body – with its innate intricacies – of which I’m in charge. It responds to the daily drills. It is informed by what I feed it. It is carrying me through the treacle-sea of rehabilitation and renewal.
I’m not sure anyone actually throws this question around consciously any more. It’s implicit, no? We meet, we partake in food/conversation/activity/laughter/advice/any mixture of the previous, we part ways and schedule another session. Beautiful and simple.
Recently, I was dramatically and catastrophically sidelined by back pain which ultimately required surgery. None of it was glamorous or fun, but it was unequivocally necessary. Goodbye, ten-out-ten pain.
And hello, active friends.
It’s humbling. The cards, the flowers, the texts, chocolates, cakes, fruit baskets, fudge and general wholesome love – so much poured into my life, each eagerly attached to the notion that ’I’m your friend; I’m thinking of you; I’m sorry you’re going through this; I’m here for you’ is valuable currency. And it is. The most valuable.
It’s gratifying. Efforts which might have gone into fretting about FOMO and being absent can be healthily and happily diverted to the vital recovery process. And efforts on my friends’ parts – to schlep, visit and call – add fuel to my drive to bounce back stronger than before.
It’s surprising. How being away from the social scene means that you’re perhaps more present. You’re missed. The gap you’ve left isn’t simply closed up and disappeared. It’s present, even without a physical presence.
So yes, we are friends, and the meaning of that is clearer than it ever was. Thank you, my friends – you are giving me so much more than you realise. I hope I do the same for you.
Yes and no. Yes, I am constantly waiting, watching and wondering what the next excitement will be in my life, what is around the corner, who I might meet, how experience might shape me. But no, I don’t dance to fate’s tune.
I realised long ago that the unknown was necessary because of its associated fear – for what life is truly lived without that? How can we forge forwards, break boundaries, challenge naysayers? And when the true revelation that the obstacle to progress is our own reticence to grit our teeth and take a step, a stand, a leap, then the possibilities are endless.
Because being perpetually sixteen going on seventeen is a charm. At the cusp, always learning, embracing naïveté and smiling at the future.
Older and wiser is a journey. Let’s go.