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January 10, 2012
It is getting a bit chilly to ride the bike, but the effort involved does produce a certain warming effect. And my walking is still uneven, almost five months after the injury too stupid to mention occurred. Here is where the bike comes in handy: the leg which protests so loudly when I walk any distance at all is indifferent to the pedaling motion, and even seems to benefit from it: I have less pain on days when I ride somewhere than on days when I hide inside.

I had forgotten what the injured always forget at first: human beings are made to move. After the wound itself had healed, I wondered why I still had so much pain -- until I realized that I had been virtually motionless for a couple of months. People don't feel well when they don't exercise. Our instinct is to take to our beds when pain visits us, when what we usually need to do is find out what exercise won't injure us more and get moving on it. Of course I felt terrible: I was rusting.

Like its owner, my bike is not what it once was. It is old; rust adorns the fenders and encrusts the kickstand. It seems to slip out of gear a bit at times -- maybe that's from the cold? My belief is that its unloveliness will keep it out of the hands of thieves. Besides, I tell people, anybody who would steal this wreck must be in a bad way, worse off than I am.

When I ride, I am a girl again. Free and fast, I fly down the block, outpacing all the pedestrians, even the runners -- this is gratifying, as my walk is so slow and I am always the one outpaced. I can do multiple errands and it doesn't take me all day to get from one to the other.

There are limits. It was so cold after a meeting one night last week that two of the guys
loaded my old bike into the back of one of their SUVs and drove me home with it. That was nice of them. But I pictured myself riding back home in the dark, the temperature in the teens, and I know I could have done it. The furnace of my body would have roared to life, reminding me that an appropriately dressed person in decent health can handle the cold. That I am originally from Minnesota, where nights that cold are nothing special and neither are nights a whole lot colder, where people love their outdoor winter sports.

We come equipped with our own furnaces. Our muscles and bones rebuild themselves. The intricate cellular process of our creation happens again in our healing, without our having to decide that it will. We are miracles.
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