It’s been a while since I’ve written any words down and shared them.
You see, I’ve recently been sick. But it’s impossible to think of yourself as a writer if your words are only inside your head. You have to actually write them, share them, and stare nervously at them as you send them out into the world.
And so, as a writer, I need to write. I need to share. Luckily, I’ve got a story worth sharing.
I spent nearly seven weeks bedbound this summer. What with, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that my body was faltering. I was suddenly unable to do more than drag myself from my bed to the kitchen for a glass of water and back again. It was a reality-check of the fragility of the human body.
There were days where my mind was as gone as my body. Nonfunctioning.
And there were days where my mind was active, locked in a body that wasn’t working.
It was on one of those days that I remembered the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. While sick in the aftermath of Hiroshima, the story tells of a young girl who set out to fold 1,000 paper cranes in the name of peace.
There’s a tradition in Japan of folding 1,000 paper cranes when someone is sick in order to wish them well. Others say that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, you’ll be granted a wish.
For the first time in weeks, I had a moment of clarity crash down upon me. I was sick. Hundreds of thousands of other people around the world were sick and dying with COVID-19. I needed something to tether me and why not let that be origami cranes?
In reality, it was nothing. Just origami. But it turned out to be exactly the thing I needed to keep me going day in and day out. Crane after crane.
I cut small paper squares out of envelopes that were going to be recycled.
Each of those squares I slowly, methodically, and intentionally folded into a miniature origami crane.
Each fold was meditative. Eventually, my fingers began to move on their own, feeling their way through the steps rather than relying on any instructions. Every crane I finished held promise. I was folding my way back to myself.
Some days I folded three and couldn’t handle another fold, hands shaking from the exertion. Other days I folded until I ran out of paper.
I filled several small boxes and bowls with completed cranes. Weeks passed. Each crane marked a step on my journey back to health.
The steps were rhythmic.
In the end, there was always a crane waiting for me after all those folds and unfolds. There was always something solid, something achieved. Each step was integral to the process. Similarly, I began to realize that the step of allowing myself to rest and recover was integral to the process of stepping back into my life as my body healed. Each crane represented peace and patience. I look at them today and I see acceptance. I see gratitude. I see an understanding of myself that I wasn’t expecting to find when I started folding.
Callouses grew on my fingers the longer I worked on my project and the longer I worked on my project, the stronger my body became. Those cranes and I took a journey together.
I didn’t fold 1,000 of them but I’ve decided that I’m not finished. The journey hasn’t finished yet. I’m still folding.
This video talks about the power of paper folding and the inherent goodness of people who wish to come together to make a difference:
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