Over the last few years, I seem to have acquired rounded shoulders, and when I walk I automatically stare dolefully downwards, using my expert laser vision to scan for potential slips, trip-ups and mishaps.
I only really noticed this when my trainer asked me to put my shoulders back and look straight ahead. Oh, really? Ohhhhhhh – kaaaay. Creak. Creak. Oh. Blimey. Hey! I’m six inches taller. Hey, I have a proper posture. Like in the magazines. S’mazing.
I used to strut. After years of being taller than your average British female (a not-that tall 5′ 8″), proudly sashaying along any pavement in high-heeled Italian boots, cobblestones no problem, I am now one of those people I used to cross the road to avoid. I mutter to myself, eyes fixed to the ground. ‘Meh, see! Told you, blinking stoopid pavement. Tut. Yada, yada, council, etc.’
In the three years since MS barged into my life, I have not walked tall. At all (lol). My shoulders are my shield, the pavements my enemy. I can literally (and I don’t use that term lightly), trip over dust. My shoes are all scuffed, bearing the brunt of my clownish walking.
But. Something magical happened when the trainer told me to stand up straight (in a very nice way). It was almost like a sixth-form A Level English Language metaphor – ‘after three years of looking downwards, she finally faced the world head on – indicative of how she was able to now walk tall, walk proud, defying the world she had unwittingly constructed.’ Discuss.
You know what? There’s definitely something in that. I was so busy seeking out obstacles on the ground, I missed the beautiful vistas passing me by. I tuned out the white noise of my friends’ concern. I was totally focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Simple, no?
Well, no. I missed so much. I didn’t take the time to breathe, look up and be thankful I was still here, still in one (albeit shaky) piece. My head was buried in the sand. Friends peeled away. Life atrophied. The pity parties multiplied.
I hope that, along with torturing me with endless squats, the trainer has given me the space to hold my head up high once again. What’d I miss?