The Power of Staying Connected

Jun 14, 2011
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Sometimes the most obvious and telling self-discoveries are the hardest to uncover. An observer may be witness to these character choices or flaws or what have you in great precision, yet you may have been unaware for years. For me, this very circumstance occurred this week, like a lightning bolt of shock and confusion: How had I become so disconnected from my own body?

Being paralyzed promotes obvious limb disconnection due to its, well, paralytic nature. However, in recent years I have spent much attention and care towards including my lower half in my daily activities—stretching each toe as if they could wiggle when forced into a middle school dance of awkward tickling, maintaining proper grooming of shaving and moisturizing and toenail painting, as well as actively being courteous to potential bumps and bruises of which can happen quite easily when not paying mind.

As aware and in tune with my whole body as I thought I was, I was put to shame in one single, illuminating moment.

This week I was working with a trainer at a godsend of a facility specifically designed for exercising those with spinal cord impairments, so what was about to unfold surprised them none. While using particular force of man-muscles and full-on body weights, my legs were being stretched beyond their own imagination. Rather than be excited and engaged in this milestone activity, I closed my eyes and waited for this horror to be over. There was no pain. There were no bad sounds of crushing bones or snapping connective tissues; however, I was absolutely terrified.

I had let myself become so disconnected from my own body that I couldn’t even trust its strength, not even to mention its elasticity. I spoke of my legs as if they were a crazy uncle whom of which had gotten lost in time, or Yonkers. Wincing, I began to ponder this notion, and started to pay very careful attention.

Throughout the rest of the day this idea followed me like a small yappy puppy that senses bacon strips at your vulnerable ankles. This experience, as profound as it was to my paralyzed self can actually be beneficial to the masses. The idea of staying connected is incredibly profound and universal in our lives. So often do we disconnect, disassociate from things or feelings or events that may be unpleasant or down-right undesired. We constantly disconnect from family members and friends that can’t see at our same plane. We disassociate from events at work in order to continue on with our day with a half-faked smile. We lose ourselves in pleasing others and fearing finite time and social graces.

So, in one minute instance of reconnecting with my legs, I was also able to reconnect with my heart and I now feel much more balanced and buoyant and ready to put my own, reconnected best foot forward.

Author: Ryan McLean