It's kind of nice to see how much my mind has evolved since the last time I had to cut back on exercise due to injury. Ugh. Did I actually write that post?? What an anorexic FREAK. Glad to say that I now recognize how nuts I was back then, and how much I've changed in the interim. Obviously I'm not totally cool with having to take time off, but I'm fine with it. "Fine" as in I'm not obsessing about it, my body image hasn't taken a plunge in the toilet, and I'm still eating basically the same as before. Not EXACTLY the same, but close. None of those things were true the last time around.
So anyway, yesterday I overslept a bit and was just kind of lolling in bed thinking about how I should get my butt to the gym, but how maybe I shouldn't because of my hip, and how maybe this was a good test of my new healthy/non-anorexic self...and then I looked out the window and saw that the snow had stopped and the sun was shining, and I realized how much more appealing it looked to be outside rather than stuck in a sweaty gym. So I bundled up and headed out for a walk. Now, it may not seem noteworthy, but I have NEVER considered walking to substitute for exercise; I have certainly always tried to maximize walking because the compulsive side of me is still conditioned to believe that any calorie-burning is better than none, but I've never skipped the gym in favor of a stroll.
It really was a strolling-pace, although it included a fair amount of hiking over hills and through snow banks (College City struggles with the snowplowing issue). For an activity that I've always dismissed as wimpy and not real exercise, that walk sure was invigorating.
And while I was out there walking, I was struck by this incredible freedom that I have. For one, freedom from pain. I used to try walking a lot early in the summer, and almost always had to come home earlier than I would've liked because I was hurting so much. Yesterday, I had almost none of that, and it hit me again how incredibly liberating it is to live without pain.
But also—and this is the liberal social justice-y side of me coming out—I was free to wander pretty much wherever I wanted because (1) I'm white, and (2) I'm female. See, my neighborhood is extremely segregated by both race and socioeconomic class. I live right on the border, about one block south of a super rundown, slummy area and one block north of this idyllic suburban enclave. Naturally I steered my walk through the nice area because the houses are prettier, the streets are safer, and there's less trash to step over. After about half an hour of strolling mindlessly without any real destination, admiring the houses, I found myself thinking: Good thing I'm white, or else I would NOT be able to do this. Because how suspicious would it look if a young black guy with dreads and saggy pants were wandering through this fancy all-white neighborhood? Like, honestly—it would look suspicious. People would automatically assume he was there to rob them. The racial tensions in College City are ingrained and powerful enough that I guarantee someone would call the police.
And that made me really sad and frustrated and grateful for my own privileges all at once. I think I mentioned that I read this book in the fall, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, that is all about the systematic racism embedded in our criminal justice system. On a related note, I just started watching The Wire. Anyone seen it? I LOVE IT. One of the best shows I've seen in a while. I am only a few episodes into the first season, but the racial undertones are really resonating with me.
It's not just another cop show, I promise!! It's not on Netflix, but I tracked it down elsewhere online with no problem :) Anyway, the whole "War on Drugs" has taken on this new sinister significance once I started to really understand how racially charged it is individually, socially, and systematically.
My point is, I used to think that being in pain was the absolute worst thing in the world. Just like I used to think that gaining weight was the worst thing in the world. That I was totally trapped by my dysfunctional body, and reduced to some shell of a person. And yes it sucked and was horrible and I would never wish it on my worst enemy, but god. Other people have problems too; horrible problems that they have no control over. I am embarrassed by how much that still shocks me. Sometimes I think that being in so much physical and emotional pain over the last few years has stunted my emotional growth somehow, like I missed a few lessons here and there about how the world works. How it is unfair, and not just to me.
I don't really know where I am going with this now, other than that I feel kind of spoiled and stupid. I don't mean to minimize the effects of physical pain because they are real and devastating, but I'm still grappling to understand the myriad ways that people can be free or trapped, and how hard it is to compare them. Being in pain was by far the most horrible, traumatic experience of my life, but now that I'm feeling better, maybe it's time to start paying attention to other people's problems.