Note: this photo and essay originally appeared on Bilerico.com on 12/21/13 as part of the Picture Tells A Story column, which I wrote from 11/13 to 5/11
One of the true pleasures of living the somewhat unusual life that I live, is the opportunity to be witness to people's moments of triumph and transformation. Watching someone push themselves to the ragged edge of what's possible makes any challenge seem face-able.
Today's picture is from one of those moments.
The world of body modification and hook suspension is hardly an unfamiliar one to me, and I've been privileged to be present at suspensions that were deeply meaningful or transformational, as well as ones that were far more mundane.
This one stands out in my mind though.
Chest suspensions are challenging to begin with, for a variety of both physiological and psychological reasons. A single-hook chest suspension, particularly on someone of anything but waif-ish proportions, is a dicey proposition. The suspension in this photo was facilitated by Steve Joyner and the team from CoRE, some of the top hook suspension experts on the west coast, and the person flying is one of the more fabulous I've encountered in my travels.
It isn't my place to discuss the reasons she chose to do the suspension pictured, of course. But it was a true joy to watch her prepare for the experience, and I was blown away by the energy she and the CoRE team brought to the entire ritual. Mr. Joyner was just barely out of frame for this photo, carefully watching to ensure nothing went wrong, though in the end the person being suspended chose to come down just moments before Steve would have stepped in and brought the suspension to a close.
My photo can only capture the barest shadow of the moment's power. Even so, I find it to be a reminder that with focus, discipline, maybe a bit of divine help, and someone to catch us if we should fall, we can do so much more than we ever could imagine.
I had the privilege of accompanying my close friend Ruth on a trip to NYC, where after literally decades of wanting it done, she had her tongue split as her 50th birthday present to herself.