There can be no more visceral saying to depict resilience, audacity, resoluteness, than this very graphic statement.
This quote has been much attributed to Winston Churchill. Apparently, some ne’er-do-well editor rearranged one of his sentences so it would not end in a preposition. Word has it that Churchill wrote a note in the margin, “This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.”
I first heard it said in the movie, She-Devil. Meryl Streep’s maid gets fed up cleaning not only after her, but after her lover, her lover’s kids and her lover’s dog, who went potty on the floor. Those are her final words as she stomps away, head held high, suitcase in hand, quitting her post, while Meryl pleads for her to come back.
I love the sound of that saying. I adopt it as my life motto now. I will embroider it on pillows. I will cross-stitch it and frame it. Up with this I will not put!
There are many things I can relate this quote to in my personal life. One, of course, is my illness. It is a chronic condition, but not one that has to rule my life. It did for a while, but I think it was because I let life best me for a time. But then, I got tired of coming in second. I made a move toward the inside, overtook it and passed it by. Running for my life, I snapped the ribbon and left it behind, in the dust.
Running. I could barely walk for fifteen minutes without pain. Walking the mall with my little girl was something to dread. Pure agony, torture. Well, up with that I did not put. I began to exercise, routinely. I began a love affair with my stationary bike. We would meet almost every evening; I would look forward to dusk. It was waiting for me in our private place, my patio. I would mount it and caress the handle bars; they reached out for me.
I’d slip my sneakered feet into the pedals; the pedal straps embraced them. My seat met its seat, for part of the time. I would get so revved up, I would pedal standing up. It was exhilarating. The bike would respond to me, telling me the number of laps I’d pedaled, my speed, how many miles I’d covered, how many calories I was using up. It communicated more with me than anyone else I lived with.
And as with any tryst, I would dress accordingly. I’d pull on exercise bottoms that fit like a second skin down the sleekness of my leg, providing me with muscular support. Always black. Some with a bolt of color flashing like a streak of lightning. Another boasted silver reflective strips curving round the knee of my revolutionary leg. I would slither into my tank top with built in support, black, of course. At those moments, I wished I had less to support. But, my bike didn’t care about my top, just my top form.
I would start my revolutions slow, pacing myself, loving the feel of the motion. My heart would start beating faster, my breathing accelerating with the ever increasing circular motions of my feet. The beading would commence, on my forehead, my arms. I would look forward to it as a sign, a sign that I was fleeing that which afflicted me. My own momentum would carry me away, away from all that dragged me down.
I would do bursts of quick speed, going over 20 miles an hour, faster, faster. My hair would fly in all directions as my body swung to and fro. I would hold that speed as long as I could and then collapse in euphoria against the front panel. I would cry out, the endorphin release so intense, I could not hold it in, the sweat blinding me, stinging my eyes.
And in between, I would pedal steadfastly, gazing up at the shape-shifting clouds as they passed slowly by. Their form changing in seconds as they, too, traveled in place. I marveled at how the veiled moonlight cast shadows, turning well-known trees into unrecognizable silhouettes. I preferred to keep the patio dark. Darkness interrupted only by the gentle flickering of two candles and the soft blue pinpoint of light coming from my wireless speaker. For my bike and I had to have our mood music while we communed.
When I was done, I would dismount on legs that felt like jelly. For one hour, I had had my way with it and it had had its way with me. We met like this for well over a year and in the end, I broke its heart; we hardly meet anymore. I’m seeking a replacement. I wore it out. It now creaks and groans, but I don’t. It’s shaky and unbalanced, but I’m not. It sits forlorn and alone, but I won’t. Because up with that I will not put!