Sunday, October 19, 2008

Physical Therapy

I know. It's odd. Not what one would include on a list along rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens. But lessons are learned in the oddest of places, usually where we aren't looking to be taught anything.

In a room with a dozen table beds arranged around the perimeter--with a treadmill and an exercise bike in one corner, a couple of portable e-stim machines between beds, exercise balls and resistance bands in another corner--sit people from the same geographical area but different walks of life. While we are not stripped down to hospital johnnies, some of us are barefoot, others have shirts baring their lower backs or sleeves pulled up; all of us are stripped of the things we think matter. My cashmere sweater and the tattoos on the neck of the man across from me mean nothing. It doesn't matter what we do for a living, or what kind car we have parked in the lot out front. What matters is that we are there.

Our being there says, I am in pain; therefore, I am human. We are strangers, but we are connected by our humanness.

I have had some engaging and entertaining conversations with these connected strangers in this open room. We have talked about the debates and the candidates and the Tina Fey skits on SNL, about pumpkin patches and apple picking and leaf peeping--while we wince and grunt and share how much we hate a particular exercise.

After an hour or so, I leave feeling better. Not because I feel any immediate relief in my feet. I don't. I know that it is a process and will take time.

Still, I leave feeling better than when I walked in.

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