“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” — Calvin Coolige (1872 – 1933)
After five surgeries for various medical challenges over the years, I am still in awe of how the body possesses a rhythm to healing. I don’t come from hearty genetic stock. I have learned to be attentive to lifestyle choices and self-care in order to minimize the impact of a congenitally compromised instrument. As always, I witness the pathways of others who may have greater or fewer challenges to mobility and daily comfort than I do. I espouse humility and focus on what I can do to grow and improve.
My last corrective procedure spanning 2013-2014 kicked my butt soundly. Healing could not be rushed, and deep rest became more important than jumping back into a vigorous, rehabilitative dance practice. Nine months passed before I could honestly say I recognized my image in the mirror, or could predictably produce movement without discomfort. I am still finding ways to negotiate what appears to be permanent damage in my body.
The gifts of these challenges are crystal clear: rebuilding has been informative. Being reduced to a near-beginner in one’s craft was the perfect antidote to arrogance and complacency. Learning to engineer movement through new pathways has given me a back-stage pass to more nuanced levels of somatic intelligence. Disrupting my comfort zone has put me back in touch with the inspirations that led me to dance in the first place. Harnessing resistance as a booster rocket for transformation catapulted me forward. Locating my sense of humor while fumbling forward has awakened my grace. I have affirmed, again, that progress is inevitable when you continue to show up and lean into a challenge. Consistency shifts possibilities like water on stone.
I couldn’t have found my way back into this journey without help, so I’m here to say thank you to my family and kindred spirits in art-land. A wise friend said “We are not meant to heal alone.” She was correct. I now understand the impact of a kind and honest (versus placating) word on a day when deflation and discouragement seem to have the upper hand. I am so utterly fortunate to have had support during this process, and I’m G.R.A.T.E.F.U.L.
The most exciting realization of all? I’m still enamored with the life I’ve cultivated. When presented with a choice to ease my way into medical retirement, there was no question that I love what I do and will choose it over and over again.
I’m now different, but I’m still here. Not only am I still here– I’m hungry.
Let’s do this.
Donna Mejia, 2014