By: Lauren Anderson
The more I talk with people about working out and stuff the more I discover this: most people come to fitness broken. I know I sure did.
Somewhere in our timelines our perfect relationship with our bodies broke.
Maybe it was an illness you were born with. Maybe it was the first time you discovered you weren’t as fit/fast/flexible as someone else, and that comparison crushed you. Maybe it was an injury. Maybe it was a lack of coordination, followed by a lack of enthusiasm. Maybe your body used to serve you, but somewhere it betrayed you, and you never recovered. Maybe it was an endless stream of being told you’re not good enough. Maybe it was a lifetime of telling yourself you couldn’t, so you never did. The list goes on and on.
For me, it’s always been kinda like a grab bag of all of the above.
For as strong as I was in other areas of my life, my relationship with my body has always felt like fine porcelain. I knew it was beautiful and important. But it was also cumbersome and careful. Precious, precarious, and breakable. And of course, it didn’t take long before I broke it.
For years and years, I walked around with my body like broken plates in a bag. Here was this thing that I didn’t want to throw out, because I knew it was an heirloom. But I couldn’t use it. Not the way I was supposed to. And I couldn’t enjoy it, because all I ever saw when I looked at the pieces was what I had done to it. How I had destroyed this once perfect thing.
So I lugged this body– a.k.a. bag of broken dishes around. Plopping it down whenever possible. Trying not to let the sharp exposed edges cut me. Trying to forget it, but never succeeding. Always trying to hide it or excuse it. Sometimes even trying in vain to fix it. But I would lose hope before the glue would even dry.
I remember years ago, in ye olden days before Netflix could stream, I came home from a party. Not wanting to go to bed yet, and waiting the long 11 minutes for my Totino’s pizza rolls that I got at a gas station to bake, I turned on my TV. It was so late that the regular stations had turned into infomercials, and I flipped the channel to the cable access station.
There was a guy screaming and smashing plates on the ground. I stopped and watched mesmerized by the theatrics of it all. AHHHHH, followed by a satisfying SMASH. Over and over and over again. He would take a long pause, and then do it again. One plate after another. Scream, smash, crash.
After about 20 plates were sufficiently decimated, he stopped. Took a deep breath, and said, “Faith plus broken-ness equals destiny.” Then he paused, squared his shoulders and repeated slowly, “Faith… plus broken-ness… equals destiny.”
In true showmanship that only the cable-access clergy can accomplish, he picked up a plate and said, “This is you. This is you– perfect. You don’t need anything or anyone.” Then BLAMO. He smashed the plate with a hammer. “Now you are broken, and it is in your broken-ness you can finally discover your faith. You discover you are not alone. And that is how find your destiny.”
I must’ve been juuuuuust drunk enough, because I ended up writing that grammatically questionable phrase down in my quote book. (Pretty sure ‘broken-ness’ is not a word.) Religion stuff aside, the word ‘faith’ in that moment to me just meant belief. Belief in something that didn’t have proof, but you hoped was there.
I interpreted it as, “Life is bound to break you, but if you believe there is something more for you, there will be. But you have to break wide open in order to really see it.” Er, something like that.
It somehow resonated with me. So now when I flip through my trusty journal of quotes that I’ve curated from my favorite books, tv/movies, conversations and dreams over the years, when I come across that page, I chuckle…. but I’ll be damned if it still doesn’t make me think.
I guess you never know where you’re gonna get inspiration. Sometimes it’s Ralph Waldo Emerson, sometimes it’s a 20-something cable-access preacher-clown, a broken plate, and pizza rolls.
All these years, I thought my broken-ness (yup, not a word) with my body was a bad thing. But perhaps the breaking of my body was the thing that helped me start to learn to love it. If I had never broken it, I wouldn’t fully understand how important it is.
It kinda reminds me of when I see videos of kids who have terrible illnesses. And during the interview they inevitably say something so heartbreakingly profound about love or life. And I always think, “That kid is so wise. How did they get so wise, so young?” And I am pretty sure, it’s because their bodies broke, and they’ve been forced to face mortality quicker than most.
Most of us won’t experience this level of wisdom until we’ve clocked in a few years. Like my main man Ralph Waldo Ems would say, “The years teach much, what the days never knew.”
And in all these years, when I tried to “fix” my broken-ness (still not a word) with my body I would always fail. Because I was trying to get my body back to when it was a whole, perfect plate. But it can never be a plate again. There are chips and cracks and pieces missing that can never be undone.
But all is not lost. It doesn’t have to be a sadness. I was just looking at it all wrong.
Instead of working out, and dieting in vain, trying and failing to get my body back to what it used to be, Solcana has started to show me what I can become. There is no going back, only lovingly forward.
You cannot make a beautiful mosaic without breaking some plates. Bit by bit, day by day, I am pressing the broken bits of my body into the grout of an intentional, life-long, joy of fitness. I didn’t think this was possible for an old broken bag of plates. And I am becoming more than I ever thought I could be.
And when I look at it, who wants to be a perfect, boring old dinner plate anyway?
I’d rather be a glorious, complex, g-damn work of art.