I have been thinking of it as a situation, because it’s come about so slowly. But in reality, it’s a crisis. A crisis of the body/mind, a movement crisis. A crisis of movement, ironically developing as I prepared to move from one state to another. And continuing after the move, as I find my way here.
This crisis, or situation, has to do with walking, with standing, with standing up. It has to do with manipulating fabric, making the bed, shaking out a plastic bag. With dancing, with swimming, with biking. With cooking, handwriting, typing. With rolling over in bed, getting dressed.
It is more than just aging. It’s neurological, but it’s not neurological. It’s mysterious, vague, hard to talk about, has no name. I haven’t liked to talk about it; have feared gossip; have tried to hide; have had embarrassment, shame.
Embarrassment and shame because I am a dancer and a practitioner of a stellar method of movement education. This method, like my malady, is profound but obscure, hard to describe. Given my background, I am not supposed to be this way. No one has expected it, least of all me. I am supposed to live to be 103, just like my mother. I am supposed to live better than she did, because I take so much better care of myself.
I have moved elegantly, eloquently, for decades—but not now. It’s been surprising, sudden, slow. I should be full of vim and vigor, but I’m not. I’ve done everything I could, everything I know, and I know a lot. I’m disciplined. I make certain breakthroughs—still, it persists. It is even more persistent than I am.
A few things I’ve maintained. Balance—I know how to fall, but I do not. I’ve maintained walking, even some hiking. My calves grow solid from climbing the hills. I have no comfort, but I have no pain. Sometimes I pass for normal, but less often.
Some things help—playing catch, kicking a soccer ball. Talking to people. Music, finding a way to dance. The solid, assertive contact of boxing. The unglamorous activity of resting. Friends, old and new; family.
Louise Runyon has recently been diagnosed with environmental toxicity, which affects involuntary movement and requires conscious motor planning for most things she does. Louise has published four books of poetry; her last book, released in 2018, is The Passion of Older Women – a manifesto on the wisdom, strength, needs and desires of older women as well as a testament to those who have gone before. A dancer/choreographer as well as poet, Louise is Artistic Director of Louise Runyon Performance Company. She is currently based in the mountains of North Carolina. www.LouiseRunyonPerformance.com