I don't remember it, but i'm sure my parents do very well. My first steps, awkward and wobbly, a sharply edged coffee table serving as support. Spacial and physical awareness along with innately ingrained balance and instinct teaching me everything i need to know. My parents are just cheerleaders, looking on with pride and there to pick up the pieces if necessary. What a cool feeling that must be, as a parent, witnessing your child's instinct drive them forward completely on their own.
Today, the room is filled with people...marketing people, photographers, the quiet guy holding the light bounce for the photographer, therapists, the guys teaching the therapists, people peeking through the window in the door...and me. All of them, i'm sure, looking on with a heavy sense of pride, and here i am, walking for the first time in eleven and a half years, in a robotic exoskeleton, and i'm feeling like i'm letting everyone down. I want to impress everyone so badly that it consumes me. Not to mention all the other emotions coming along with the fact that i am actually freaking walking right now! My mind is fielding things like being at eye level with everyone, looking down at my legs moving, looking in the mirror, self conscious about how tiny my legs are. Literally, my head is swirling with emotions.
My brain and the muscle memory of walking naturally are taking over and messing me up. Your brain doesn't forget. I want to let my momentum carry me into each step instinctively like normal, instead of waiting for the robot to engage. I'm leaning too far forward, wanting to go faster. I want to run. I envision it, but it doesn't go the way my brain wants to. I actually try to put my foot down where i want it, compensate aggressively for the movement the robot does in actuality and almost take a fall. "OK lets regroup," the guy teaching everyone is nervous for my safety. Walking in a robot is super cool, but physically not the same motion. Its a different muscle memory and when i mess up everyone seems to be frustrated that i'm not doing as well as they hoped. So i feel like a failure. When they let me go at my own speed, i seem to do better and i voice this. Instantly, the sinking feeling that they disagree consumes me. Do they think i'm just prideful and i'm blaming it on them? Totally off because i'm sure they totally think i'm great, but i automatically jump to the assumption that they are thinking something negative about me. I do this with everyone, all the time, and this time is no different. Every blog i write, every tweet, every post, every speaking gig, every sentence i utter, i need to trust myself all over again. When i do this without reserve, my quality of life has a knack of improving. Hm...life lesson?
Then i realize, i'm not the student here! This whole day is not about me. Its about the therapists. They are the ones being taught here and i am just a guinea pig, a subject of study. If i walked in this thing perfectly and already knew everything, then the therapists would have nothing to study and i'd be useless. In order to be presented with the opportunity to assess, they need something to assess. They need to study all types of students, learning tendencies, awkward circumstances, near falls, etc. The fact that i just want to go, am moving too fast and am not afraid of falling, is the curve ball that puts them in the situation where they need to accommodate for those tendencies and adjust their teaching methods accordingly. My faults put them in the situation to learn. My flaws make me perfect. The brain never forgets those either, its all a matter of reprogramming...but that's a whole other coffee talk, isn't it?