When I think of my body I immediately think of what is wrong with it. I think of what I do not have and what I have not been given—so I think. It is time, however, to really look at what I have been given, what I have to work with.
Let me get the imperfection over with so I can move on to a more positive view. I have a club foot. It is something I was born with, possibly caused before and during birth. I was a breech birth suggesting I got mixed up in my mother’s womb! It has left me with a slightly deformed foot and a shorter leg and foot. It is a bitch for buying shoes, my foot gets sore with exercise but otherwise it does not get in the way too much.
Two stays in hospital, at ages 5 and 10, rather coloured my view of my physical capabilities. Learning to walk again at age 5 is something I will never forget. I have a powerful memory of being in the lounge of our house (the smart room) after coming out of hospital. I feel surrounded by family willing me on. Whether I walked well or not I do not remember but I do remember that it emphasised my incapability in my mind.
Many years ago, when I was at school, we were made to take part in cross-country running. I hated it, I used to feel out of breath and felt that I could not do it. I tried to use my foot as an excuse to get out of it, without much success. I was left feeling that I had an inadequate body.
Looking back, with the benefit of hindsight I realise I was just being lazy, something I was very good at!
I have a niece with a beautiful daughter called Summer. Summer has cerebral palsy which means that a large part of her brain has been destroyed by a brief moment of oxygen starvation during her birth. The result is that she is effectively locked in a body without responses or connection to the world. She will always need to be looked after and have everything done for.
Summer is beautiful and tragic. She is a shining light in the world but needs the world to take care of her. She has been denied the right to use her body as nature intended. In comparison my disability pales into insignificance.
I have been given a body of power and strength. A body that can do almost anything, the only interfering factor being my mind.
My mother loved my thick dark hair and she thought I was very handsome. I have realised over the years how right she was. I have always looked good, and still do in my sixties. It has taken me many years to accept this, but when I look back at old photos, I can see what was there. My looks come from my mother who was an amazingly beautiful lady.
I feel grateful for what I was born with, even my imperfection. It brought me closer to my mother, who always blamed herself for it. I have never been physically prevented from doing what I wanted to do.
After leaving school I worked for many years as a technician and designer in the professional theatre. My speciality was lighting, and boy did I enjoy it. I climbed all over the walls of theatres hanging and focusing lighting fittings. I remember working on the West End production of ‘Evita’ in London. The show started in a cinema with a full size screen filling the proscenium arch. After the announcement of the death of Eva Peron the screen rose during the number ‘Requiem for Evita’.
It went up at an angle of 45 degress to the back of the stage. The top was a good 100 feet above the stage. All the lighting equipment above the stage was set above the moving screen. I remember standing in the frame of the screen as it was raised so I could access the lamps to focus them. I had no problems with this, or anything else I wanted to do.
The mind and the desire were another issue that I will look at later.
Come back tomorrow when I look at how time has worked on my body and whether that matters.
- Do you appreciate the body you were born with?
- Do you wish it was different?
- Are you using your body to its full potential?