Friday, December 2, 2016

Re-Evolution as a Biped

       Since I tore my Achilles tendon on October 1, I have gone through a series of methods of mobility: two crutches, knee scooter, walking boot with two crutches, walking boot with one crutch, walking boot by itself. Sometimes I switch between modes depending on how far I have to go and how sore my ankle is. This past Sunday I showed up at church with just my boot, prompting a friend to gush, "You've re-evolved as a biped!"
       Yes, I have been very grateful to be back on my own two feet, even in limited fashion. The injury has been as brutal as I've always heard. Beyond the physical part, it's also been hard to know how much of a burden this has placed on other people and their generosity. Plus I can be a pretty self-absorbed patient. I am truly grateful for their kindness. And at moments I'm tempted to keep crutches with me because of the sympathy they can provoke. But I hope I'm never on them again, for the sake of myself and others.
       Currently I am learning how to walk again without any bracing or support. I mean that literally. I really didn't expect this part to come so slowly, although it makes sense given the nature of the injury and length of total bracing. I have to think about each step and stride, making sure I go heel-toe, aiming for equal paces, trying not to have any hitches or leg-drags. Forwards and backwards. On a treadmill and across the floor. I draw inspiration from recalling when my children learned to walk, how they were very tentative until it all clicked and they took off.
       Recently the experience has me considering teachers and some of what I suspect many of them have been feeling during this time of rapid change and the implications for schools. I suspect many feel as if they are having to learn to walk all over again. But while I'm striving to regain my normal and natural stride, in many ways they are being asked to develop entirely new gaits. Think about trying to rewire years of muscle memory and feeling as if you had to perform new motions flawlessly after just a few tries, if not sooner. While I still advocate change and want to see it occur faster, perhaps I have more empathy now.
       Of course, as with most things--and I may become dreadfully platitudinous here--conquering any challenge depends on our attitudes. At my physical therapy appointments, sometimes I see a guy who looks to be around twenty years old. He's lost his right arm, and he seems to be training other parts of his body to compensate. I've never spoken with him, and his eyes are distant. But he goes through his exercises with solid determination. It's trite to say this, but...yes, my injury has been a complete drag; yet I still have a complete right leg. I have the chance to rehab my injury and come back perhaps even stronger.
       As teachers and school learn to wend their ways through all the pathways of this emerging world, we have to embrace all the possibilities. Naturally some of those trigger fear. Look beyond that shroud, though, and it's gloriously exciting. After all, how many true chances do we ever have to re-evolve?

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