Facing mortality is a hard thing to do when you live your life like you’re invincible.
My first brush with mortality occurred when I was 11 years old. It happened during a gymnastics class at my dance studio. That day, I was determined to make an aerial cartwheel my bitch. Of course, the opposite happened and I wound up screaming bloody murder on a blue mat with a dislocated elbow.
(On a side note, it’s rather impressive how much human skin can stretch – yes, you can insert a Silence of the Lambs joke here.)
A restorative elbow procedure, nine surgical staples, and a neon pink cast later, I started to understand that, much to my dismay, I was indeed breakable. I have now encountered that sad realization five times.
My most recent confrontation with mortality occurred on Black Friday. Yes, it was a very black Friday – not because I got trampled trying to score a low-priced gaming system at Wal-Mart, but because my lower back decided it wanted to hibernate for the winter. My facet joints (the cartilage-covered things that keep your vertebrae from colliding and moving over each other) went snap, crackle, pop, and this spring chicken went down for the count.
Walking was exceptionally difficult. Shifting my weight, even while sitting, caused muscle spasms. Dropping my chin to my chest sent searing pain into my hips. I had what I’ve affectionately dubbed “man back,” a condition where the small of my back is completely devoid of curvature due to swelling. I had a dance show in 20 days. I was miserable.
But Mom, can’t I be superhuman for just this month…?
Of course, this isn’t the end of the world, though at times it’s felt like it. It felt that way when I had to pull out of my show. It felt that way when I realized I would have to be nice to myself and accept that I’m going to gain a little weight, because I can’t just go out and hike mountains, run five miles, or dance my butt off in a hip hop class like I used to. It feels that way as I toy with the idea that perhaps my shelf life as a dance performer has expired at the ripe old age of 27. (Now, I’ll always take classes, teach, and find outlets for dancing, but maybe the pressures of the stage are no longer for me.)
But here’s the thing – I don’t live all of my life on a dance floor. And it’s moments like these when I’m happy that I don’t. Historically, some of my wannabe invincibility has been channeled toward other things – baking, writing, modeling, singing, philanthropy, and being an awesome girlfriend, among other things.
So this time off of all things physical is giving me the opportunity to be introspective, spiritual, creative, and kickass with my mind instead of my body. I am writing up a freakin’ storm right now – like an I’ve-started-a-novel kind of storm. A wonderful friend of mine is celebrating her birthday this weekend, and I’m going to create a new cupcake flavor just for her. I’m anxiously awaiting modeling photos from a recent shoot. I have the most amazing support system imaginable between my friends, family, and boyfriend. And the live music scene in Phoenix has recently become my drug of choice.
So maybe this is who I’m meant to be right now, a girl who’s going back to basics, exploring her mind, and relearning how to take care of herself.
To me, that doesn’t sound half bad.