"There are people who seldom think about their joints, and people who think about nothing else."
- Meir Schneider
For most of my life I belonged to the first category, but there came a time when I became aware that, with the passing of the years, many of my friends had slipped, (sometimes literally!) into Schneider's second category.
Knees, in particular, had assumed considerable importance in their lives. "How's the knee?" became a favourite opening gambit, often developing, as time passed by, into, "How are the knees?" This was the signal for others to join in, offering a variety of treatments, doctors, waiting times for surgery etc, as the words cartilage and replacement slipped effortlessly into the conversation. While sympathising with my suffering friends, I must however confess to feeling rather smug, regarding my own blameless joints with increasing affection.
But I also began to feel guilty. I could not take any credit for my well-behaved knees, as I had given them little or no attention throughout the many years in which they had supported me uncomplainingly. Perhaps it was not too late to give them a little tender loving care? I also felt, uneasily, that it might be pushing my luck not to do so. They might yet decide to go on strike.
One thing leads to another, and, unsurprisingly, given their close connection, hard on the heels of the recalcitrant knees came frequent complaints of troublesome feet. Some unfortunate people suffer with both. Again, I have been fortunate in not experiencing problems, but again, I must confess to neglecting, indeed, ignoring my hard-working feet.
As a child I was made to feel ashamed of my feet, and was quite convinced of their ugliness and clumsiness. I was always tripping over things, which invariably provoked the comment that I had "two left feet"! They certainly could not be described as elegant. They are broad and with a tendency to bunion on my right foot, (an inherited family characteristic) but are otherwise unremarkable, average feet.
Decades passed, and despite being virtually ignored, my forgiving feet never gave me any trouble. But my attitude changed dramatically when, shortly after my 60th birthday, I lost most of my sight, and needed to visit a chiropodist, as I could no longer see to cut my toe nails. To my utter amazement, he expressed admiration for my sad neglected appendages. I could not believe it. Had I heard aright? Was he joking? Apparently not, for he went on, "Yes, you have very good feet, in excellent condition." I regarded these unloved extremities with new eyes. It was time for a bit of bonding! They seemed visibly to brighten up at this unexpected turn of events, and I could swear they winked at me. Recognition at last! I treated them to some luxurious (and expensive) massage cream. They had surely earned it. When we moved, and I went to another chiropodist, his reaction was the same! More compliments. My feet began to relax, as I gave them loving care and attention. I felt more grounded and balanced, more centred. I remembered the old adage:
"Energy flows where attention goes."
"It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees"
- Emiliano Zapata
"When things get really bad, just raise your glass and stamp your feet and do a little jig. That's about all you can do."
- Leonard Cohen