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Feats of Physicality or, Looking Stupid
a blog by Jim and Joy
Sometimes I fantasize about applying for The Amazing Race. Part of it is the idea of escaping. I’d love to do something really dramatic to change my life. Also, Jim would be my teammate. We’d be gallivanting all over the globe, cracking up. I think about how Jim would feel if he had to watch me jump off a cliff or eat donkey doodie. He’d be proud! Ever since infertility became my reality, I’ve been this obsessed, depressed person. To have him see me able-bodied, smiling, FREE, would be excellent.
About a year ago, Jim and I signed up for a yoga class. I’d done it a little bit, but Jim was brand new to the practice. Yoga sort of became our escape, our Amazing Race. Jim and I are totally out of our element (our “element” being the couch, dinner, Willy.) Frankly, we’re both awful. I can hear Jim grunting behind me, and when I turn around, his face looks like the knot of a balloon. And I can’t look much better (what does Alice from The Brady Bunch say when she throws her back out during the Hawaii episodes? “My ‘hu’ went one way, and my ‘la’ went the other”? That’s all I can think of).
But really, it’s one of the only things about my body that I can laugh at right now. Everything else about our bodies is for making babies, it seems. I’m so hopped up on drugs, I don’t know what I’m feeling half the time. And Jim is working himself to the bone, each creak seems to signify another bill he worked to pay off. So when we’re in class for those 90 minutes, it’s a great relief. It feels like someone else is taking care of us. This escape is the weekly reset button we really rely on, that we have come to look forward to.
On yoga days, Jim comes downstairs before class, in clothes I never see him in, holding his mat and yoga strap. Jim is a creature of habit, so he seems to treat the time around yoga as a ritual. And because he’s normally so busy with things that do not include me, I LOVE how much attention he gives to this time together. This little weekly class does the trick. It signifies our commitments to one another and our own health. Those are things I’m willing to look silly for.
When western medicine doesn't provide instant results, you get a ton of "you should try yoga," or "acupuncture will change your life." Joy gets advice daily, and I get it too. Try these Chinese herbs and next thing you know, you'll be giving birth in a horse tank in your living room. I'm not anti-Eastern philosophy. In fact, I'm the one reading books on Zen and wishing I could sit quietly for a minute without hearing my inner task master running through the to-do list for the day. I just don't think you can turn on your guru when you think the time is right. These are practices that take time and we don't have that kind of time. Nonetheless, there was a readiness to follow any path Joy was willing to try for the sole reason that it might provide a welcome distraction from our fruitless pursuit.
Physically, I'm a mess. Older people tell me about their everyday aches and pains and I'm thinking they've got nothing on me. My body is rebelling. It takes time to get out of bed in the morning, my joints are stiff and my lower back creates a numbness in my left leg that requires an extra second or two to get my balance. I meet older tree guys and I feel like Scrooge hanging out with the Ghost of Arborist Future. Is this what I'm going to look like!? I need to mellow out a bit. It would be nice to feel nimble and free of the constant aches and pains, a relaxed body is not too much to ask for.
It's not all my fault. I was cursed from the beginning. My Achilles tendons were a size too small and resulted in me springing around on my tiptoes for most of my childhood. My Mom used to make me hang my heels off the steps to my bedroom so that one day they might actually touch the ground. You can't stretch steel.
Mom’s torture withstanding, the idea of yoga has always scared the hell out of me. How could I survive yoga if I couldn't even sit cross legged without experiencing severe pain? I was so wrong. I'm by no means close to being flexible, but I CAN sit with my legs crossed and not feel like my hips will dislocate. And you should see my Half Moon pose: all that balancing in a tree has paid off. When I'm through with a couple of Utthita Trikonasanas, I actually feel the relief in my lower back. Now this is good work.
As far as motivation goes, I am in awe of Joy. She has amazed me. No amount of bungee jumping on the Amazing Race could impress me more than the physical bouts she has endured. She’s been fearless in the face of real pain and when we bang out Warrior pose, I think of her. So, yeah, I'll wear tights and work on tilting my pelvis if it helps her along.