July 14, 2014
Let’s talk, for a moment, about the hard parts. The portions of our bodies that are difficult to accept.
The picture I’m sharing with you today is a picture of my knees. They’re a little strange, as far as knees go. If I stand with my ankles together, they point slightly toward each other, and there’s a narrow gap between my bowed legs from ankle to thigh. It’s the sort of thing the average person would never notice — the result of a slight anatomical anomaly, a twist in both my femurs.
Years ago, I was a ballerina, and a decent one — the kind of dancer displayed at best advantage with both feet off the ground. There’s a term in ballet called ballon (accent on the second syllable), which is the ability to hang suspended at the top of a leap for a longer period than usual. It is, in essence, the illusion of making time stop while you’re in the air. That was my gift. It made me a fun dancer to watch, but more importantly, it brought me joy. In the middle of a jump, I felt just a little bit transcendent.
When I was a teenager, and finally just reaching the point where I began to take that art seriously, a certain dance instructor sat down with me to talk about the problem of my knees. She suggested that if I wanted to go much further with ballet, I’d reached a point where I ought to consider finding a surgeon who could break and reset my legs to improve their lack of linearity. Ballet is all about the perfection of line, and my legs were plainly imperfect. No matter what kind of crazy stunts I could pull in the air, those curved lines would always hold me back.
It wasn’t much later when I quit ballet.
To be honest, I’ve never quite gotten over the feeling that my legs just aren’t right … that there’s a fatal flaw in the machine, one that can’t be overcome by passion or power. I don’t like myself from the waist down. Aside from my pajamas, I don’t own a single pair of shorts. But lately, I’ve begun to believe in the idea that I can see beauty there anyways, if I just teach myself how to look.
Over the next week, I’m going to try to re-see this part of myself. You’re invited to join in the process. I welcome your encouragement, and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to share my process with you. It’s a joy, truly.
Thank you. ❤
This post is part of a series. To read more, click here.