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  • What you can't see in this image, thanks to the generosity of a skilled photographer, is that my left arm doesn't straighten completely. I was in a car accident in 2003 that put me in intensive care, caused my parents to rush from a 3 a.m. phone call to catch a flight to Colorado, led to two surgeries and months of therapy on my comminuted (fractured so many times they stop counting breaks) elbow.

    The three-inch scar is noticeable, the lack of motion too, to the attentive eye. I used to make a game of seeing how long it takes someone I'm dating to notice it. Their reactions seemed a kind of litmus test for character. Back when I used to wait tables, a stranger picked up on it right away. He'd fallen off scaffolding carpentering a house and straightened his crooked arm to show me our kin.

    I aspire to make the cover photo of a yoga magazine with my bent arm obvious. It imbalances several of my asanas, including downward facing dog and wheel. I'd like to write an article about modifying postures to accommodate damaged or restricted bodies, acceptance, non-violence toward ourselves. But more I think the image would reach people who don't practice yoga, illustrate imperfection in a discipline so often associated with physical appearance.

    I share this story not with an obvious photo, though, because I like that you can't tell. It seems truer about our half-hidden and partly-presented world. Full of surprise. I'm grateful for Susan's dedication to me in Breathe for that reason. We never know the effect we're going to have on another person. We can hope. We can behave in a way that might influence someone watching from close or afar. But all we can really know is if we're proud of ourselves, whether we're paying attention. When we take a deep breath, our lungs fill and our minds clear, but the air into which we exhale our thoughts & begin again is shared.
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