Sometimes, we meet individuals who change us, help us grow more into ourselves. They exude courage, acceptance, love. These qualities permeate the space between us until we, too, become more courageous, accepting, loving.
I spent a full weekend surrounded by more than 40 of these very people.
At the first, APDA-sponsored Parkinson’s Disease Arts & Movement Weekend, we gathered not to mourn our losses living with a degenerative disease but to celebrate the abundance of all we have, all we can do, all that we are.
Together, we danced, sang, moved through yoga and Tai Chi. We learned to shift perspective of our world to that of a photographer’s eye and to create, express, and simply play with paint and color. We became, not people with PD, but dancers, yogis, artists.
If courage means letting go of the familiar, courage checked in to the PD Arts & Movement Weekend with every participant. Each left the comforts of home to stay two nights in a lodge with the unknown – strangers (who else will be there?) in an unknown place (are bathrooms close to each workshop space?) embarking on foreign activities (will I look like a dork trying the crane pose?).
Fears existed. With courage, people spoke of them, placed them in the center of our discussion circle. And somehow, they dissipated. They didn’t hold a chance, really, not with all the support surrounding them, the compassion, humor and strength permeated the ring we formed around them.
One participant summed it up best: Acceptance, she said, is such an active sounding word. But, she added, it took no effort throughout the weekend. There was such simplicity in how people accepted one another. Dyskinesia and off times were as present as the carpeting, in the room but not a distraction. Kindness and understanding greeted anyone who shared a thought, a poem, a piece of artwork.
One of my early yoga instructors defined yoga as radical self-acceptance. Take that kindness and understanding for others and spill some on ourselves. Love the being inside us. Go ahead and grieve what is lost. But love, too, what we can do, all we have, who we are now.
“Love yourself, accept yourself, forgive yourself and be good to yourself, because without you the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.” – Leo Buscalia
Thank you, all. I look forward to the second PD Arts & Movement Weekend.