I had just gotten myself positioned at the cable machine to do punches, straight ahead, upwards, downwards. I’d increased the weights and had tried a couple of punches to see how I’d do, it was doable but work. I’d been so focused that I didn’t notice him standing there, waiting for me to notice him. I stopped, looked up at him and said hello.

He mentioned that it was nice to see me back and wondered where I’d been over the last many weeks. I told him that I’d been very sick and in the hospital and was only now trying to get back to the routine, I had, I emphasized, been to the gym a couple of times since but had not seen him there.

He asked about my illness and recovery and we spoke for a few minutes. I told him that the worst thing about the gym was, when you came back, you could tell exactly how much strength you’d lost. I’d had to drop weights and resistance on everything I was doing. It would take a while to get it all back.

“You are an inspiration,” he said.

I blubbered something about not feeling like one.

“Well, you are,” he said and then was on his way.

I tried to figure out why I wasn’t offended. Like all of you I don’t like inspiration porn, or being objectified into a one dimensional disabled wonder. Then I realized that he wasn’t using the word in relationship to my disability but in regards to my will to fight back after an illness. I don’t know what his history is, or where he comes from, or who he’s known, I don’t know what the word ‘inspiration’ means in his own personal vocabulary.

I am inspired by people sometimes but have become shy of saying the word. But inspiration isn’t a bad thing, inspiring people do actually exist.

It’s weird because it took me 20 minutes to figure out that I wasn’t offended and another 10 to figure out that it was a compliment.

Being disabled means that sometimes I complicate the uncomplicated and over think something that doesn’t require any thought at all.

Any of you find yourselves spending too much time figuring out what’s the right was to feel about things?

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