As the rhythms pounded beneath my feet, the dancers in red quickened their pace — stomping, twirling, leaping with grace and fervor. My spirit morphed into a scorching fire, burning in agony at the edges of my now-disabled flesh, pulsing with memory of what it felt like to be Alive. I could taste it.
Chest heaving with grief, I wrapped the Ethiopian shawl tighter around me and turned my face from the ecstatic crowd. A wave crashed against nearly 10 years of pain, streaming from my eyes, as the dancers finished their performance and invited the audience to join them in the circle, barefoot on the white sand.
The crowd leapt forward, ululating in delight. I walked along the outskirts of celebration, head tilted sideways, peering hesitantly — eyeing the stark face of my limitations — as the darkness beyond beckoned me back to safety.
I would flee into the night.
Turning away, I found the path out blocked by a wall of despair. I stopped, paused, then slowly faced the circle again. Walking over, I sat down at the edge — both its and mine – and watched.
The crowd dissipated, and I walked forward into the music, closing my eyes, tears gently rolling down my cheeks. What doesn’t hurt? I asked as the beat poured through me. My arms, I answered. So dance with your arms.