I am currently a full-time student, but two mornings every week I am a teacher.
I teach an exercise class.
It’s hard and sweaty and I’m usually tired, and sometimes I don’t feel quite ready as the first students slip in, bumbling through their own respective stages of early morning awakening under the bright florescent lighting. As my muscles slowly warm up and my mind fully awakens I begin to feel damn good and, by the end, my body is humming along, fully awake, fully alive.
Irrespective of my personal trials and tribulations with this class, there is a fear in the back of my mind, causing me to want to perhaps whisper, perhaps shout, two simple words.
Pack up your stuff, go home. Go home, retrace your steps, back through the cold dark morning in through your front door, to your bed. Home. Go there.
I don’t want to teach you.
Maybe I don’t even know you. Maybe you slipped in this morning, and perhaps another morning a month or two ago. Or maybe I do know you, distantly, maybe you come once or twice a month. Maybe you come every week.
You are beautiful. Go back to your room, and sit with yourself.
I don’t want to be an instrument of punishment.
Maybe I can see you clenching your jaw, staring yourself down in the mirror, sweat dripping off of your body, face flushed, muscles pumping, heart aching, completely blind to the symphony of perfection that is your existence. Maybe I overheard you talking outside of class about your dislike for your body as if it were something to hate or discard. Maybe I know nothing about you.
I want to stop the class, I want to smash the mirrors behind me, I want to leave the front of the room, take you by the hand and cry as I try to communicate the power of your unassuming perfection.
I want some way of knowing that I am not helping you use your body only as an instrument to get somewhere or something. Or as something that needs punishment. Or as something that needs to change in order to be loved.
I want you to participate with me, to celebrate the perfection that is manifesting in your chest each time you inhale. To be fully aware of the beautiful symbiotic relationship your physical body has with your soul.
I want you to have to fight, not to scream, at the beautiful weight of gratitude that swells through your veins as your muscles carry you through this class.
I will not aid you in this soulless, mindless game of numbers and competition and the overwhelmingly suffocating stench of fake that permeates far too much of our society.
Sit with yourself, look in the mirror and say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Come back to me when you are ready to move as a celebration of the perpetual miracle that is your existence.
Despite all of this, I don’t know you. I don’t know your heart.
So instead of telling you to go home, I will give you my best and cheer you on with my whole heart. But I don’t know if you are listening, I don’t know if your souls are open.
I don’t know why you are here, and that makes me afraid.
It makes me afraid because I used to be that girl who needed to be told.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Ffion Jones / Editor: Renée Picard