Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Piedi Nudi 3

In case anyone is still wondering, a piedi nudi is simply Italian for barefoot. The "a" works like the French "a" in a la mode, and the rest is obvious, I suppose.

And in case you are still wondering, I have been walking barefoot because I want to be able to run again, and it seems doing it barefoot is getting me there.

Thanks to a reader and friend who will remain anonymous unless he chooses to identify himself, my eyes have been opened to a whole world of people who run barefoot out there, even in civilized America. And to a whole body of research that explains why you are much less likely to be injured when walking/running barefoot as opposed to wearing athletic shoes.

Shortly after college, I hyperextended my left knee while playing a crazy kids' game with a bunch of grown-ups. Being the tough little tomboy I was, even at that age, I stoically went back into the game and promptly hyperextended it again. I couldn't walk after that, had to use crutches for a while. I remember telling the doctor, "Well, I know this sounds crazy, but it felt like my knee went backwards. But of course knees can't do that, so I don't really know what I did to it."

And he said, "Well, that's exactly what happened."

Anyway, since then, every time I've tried to run, and even when I walk long distances, my knee ends up hurting a lot. A whole lot. I tried doing the thigh-strengthening exercises recommened, and that surely didn't hurt me. But it also didn't do much to keep my knee from hurting.

So I was resigned to a life of no more running.

And this was very sad to me. I used to love running. I mostly loved sprints and running hurdles, and I often did those barefoot when I was in elementary and junior high school. Later I got into longer runs, and enjoyed it up to about 3 miles. After that, not really. But running was part of my life, part of me, and I never thought a day would come when I wouldn't be able to run if I wanted to.

So, learning that my friend was running barefoot after a knee injury was enough to make me want to try it.

And that's why I've been walking barefoot in the park. It's wonderful in and of itself, for the feel of soft moss underfoot and the joy of dew in the morning, the ooze of mud between the toes, which I hadn't felt for years. It's kind of like getting a foot massage each time I go out.

And on top of that, I've had no knee pain whatsoever. I'm meeting interesting (interested) people. I can feel my legs getting stronger.

And the other day, I ran over half a mile for the first time in years.

La vita e' bella.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Open Wounds

I'm not putting a photo on this post because I could hardly stand to look at the photos I found of open wounds. I admire doctors and nurses who are able to work with skin and blood and wounds. I can do it when necessary, but unless a real person is involved, I don't do well seeing images.

I dedicate this post to the client I saw today who has had several miscarriages in a short time (and has no living child), who is angry, who wakes with nightmares every night since the most recent miscarriage, who fears she will never have children, and who gets told all the stupid things people say, "Everything happens for a reason," "God wouldn't let it happen to you if he didn't think you could handle it," "It'll all be okay and you'll see them in heaven."

People don't mean to say stupid things, as I told her, but that doesn't mean their words don't hurt deeply. I realize that some people mean well and are probably just not good with words. And some people have not suffered great pain. Others have and are afraid of it, and so are afraid to enter into another's pain. Some people, of course, just don't care. Some are too hung up on their own fear of not knowing what to say, so they resort to cliches rather than just listening and saying, "I hear you. I'm with you."

What strikes me most, however, from my own experience of people trying to address my pain, as well as what I hear from clients, is that people just don't want to accept pain and suffering. They want it to be over, they want to pretend it isn't as bad as it is. Some Christians are worse about it than those who don't believe. They seem to think faith means finding a way to make everything okay right now.

Sometimes the only thing I have to offer clients is the willingness to hear their pain and to feel the depth of it with them, to acknowledge that it is truly real, that it matters, that it may last a long time or even a lifetime, and that it is not to be glossed over. And at times it's clear that that is the main thing they need. I wish they didn't have to pay money to find someone who can do that, but at least I can offer it.

In our culture of instant makeovers, artificial white smiles, Hollywood happy endings, and sappy greeting cards, I was thankful to find this on a blog I was looking at:

Too often Christian theology makes light of suffering by immediately jumping to the future glory, or by looking for the ‘greater good’ that can be seen in the present. The problem of suffering remains a problem, and it must remain a problem. It is inevitable and indiscriminate, it disturbs our existence, invades our peace and destroys hopes. What is needed is a worldview that doesn’t pretend this isn’t the case. Rather, we need a worldview that acknowledges the inevitability of suffering and darkness.

God and suffering belong together, just as in this life the cry for God and the suffering experienced in pain belong together. The question about God and the question about suffering are a joint, common question… It is not really a question at all, in the sense of something we can ask or not ask, like other questions. It is the open wound of life in this world. It is the real task of faith and theology to make it possible for us to survive, to go on living, with this open wound. (Moltmann: 1981, 49)

from the blog All Things New: