I’ve told my origin story before- poor, obese, bad student. Shoplifted bootstraps and pulled self up by them, and so on. I don’t think I’ve ever shared, however, how a library booksale saved my life.
I love libraries. They were a constant source of mental stimulation in my home, and are to this day. When I lived on the Big Island, I was very unhappy- the library trailer was a tenuous tether to the rest of the world.
I started trying to exercise around age 16/17. When I first started, I had no sports background to draw from, was uncoordinated, and had no stamina. The only exercise I could do was yoga, which I discovered via an old vhs tape we bought at the library book sale.
It was from the early 90’s, well before yoga was mainstream cool. The instructor was an older Indian man with a heavy accent and beard.
I exercised along with the tape in my dingy living room, while my brother’s gangbanger friends made fun of me when I fell over or couldn’t complete an asana. They made fart sounds and informed me, quite matter-of-factly, 1) I was gay (wrong) , and 2) my pants were going to rip. Also wrong.
I kept doing the tape. After a few weeks I could finish the entire sequence. I remember sweating for hours afterward, a primitive fire deep inside awakened. Also, keep in mind it was summer in Hawaii, and we didn’t have air conditioning.
I felt calm after yoga, like my body was mine and a reflection of my lifestyle and choices as much as environment and circumstances, and if I kept going, the former could transcend the latter. I discovered that although I was fat, I was incredibly flexible for a male. I still am, and my hip strength and flexibility makes my closed guard hard to pass in jiu jitsu, my supple shoulders nullifying most kimura attempts.
Soon I could jog for a few minutes and do a dozen pushups. I could play soccer or basketball in the park. I started practicing my remembered 3rd-grade level McDojo karate.
I started to respect and trust my body. I still had (have!) a great deal of maturing to do in that area.
All of this from a library booksale. Thank you, Friends of the Public Library System.