Friday, January 15, 2021

The Magnificence of Humans

As I rounded the corner, I saw her at the end of the block, a woman on roller blades. She spun like a ballet dancer, then started heading my way, her arms swinging to build momentum. With a snap she turned her back toward me, then raised her right leg into an arabesque, toes pointed sharply, one arm over her head, which was, like her raised leg, parallel to the ground.

The space between us was closing rapidly. I wondered if she was going to barrel into me, but somehow, I knew she wouldn't. She was too much in control of herself for that. Dropping into a sitting position, one leg outstretched, her back still toward me, she seemed, impossibly, to accelerate. She was approaching a terrain of sidewalk gratings that would certainly cause her to fall if she wasn't alert. Did she know they were there? Of course, she did, standing and spinning around all in one motion, her momentum unaffected, she magically tip toed through the hazard, passing by me in a surge of backdraft as she now accelerated.

Stunned into stillness, I turned to watch her pass, thrilling at her speed and grace. Suddenly, she leapt, her head nearly touching an awning extended from the side of the building. Upon landing she segued smoothly (how did it even happen?) into a spin, her back arched, face toward the sky, an expression that spoke of exuberance, strength, confidence, and power.

Then she was gone, around the next corner, a superhero on her way to save the day.

I felt my heart in my chest. It took a moment to uproot myself from the spot where I stood, gawking after her. My whole being wanted to follow, to glide with her, to be a sidekick. What magnificent things the human body can do: what her body can do. Clearly a product of passion, practice, natural talent, and fitness, yet somehow beyond my comprehension. I've seen skaters do these things on TV, of course, but being there, surprised on a downtown sidewalk, I was inspired by the idea of being a superhero myself.

She was there and gone, leaving me in awe of the magnificence of humans. Thank you to this woman and to all of you who inspire me.


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