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Claire Mooney.jpg

"The difference between pain and suffering is the thought."

In Chicago, I met a woman embodying the disparity between the body we inhabit and the person we are, drinking whiskey at the Rainbo Club, a bar built in 1936, still totally electric, secretive and alive.  Waist up, Claire Mooney’s a tough, wisecracking bohemian, my girl crush with the same birthday and hundreds of friends. But from the waist down, she has some disability, using two canes to walk and a tricycle (a gift from her friends) to ride her beautiful hometown streets. Reconciling disparities through Traditional Chinese Medicine and the mind’s power: that’s Claire’s thing. She chooses to heal, and listen to, the body.  Stoned at her diagnosis, this acupuncturist (who gave me a pretty great needling session), podcaster and feminist chronicled the road from her wheelchair at 23 to embracing the power of TCM to heal, and the body’s will to fight. Pain is real; suffering is a choice. Claire refuses to suffer.

Impossible to imagine "disability" in this powerful pose; it's such an inadequate, wrong word. She's so picturesque and serene. She was on her way to a wedding.  I remember feeling so good, so at home, that tranquil Saturday at the foot of the stairs. I think of her often- as powerful, so powerful and so kind it overwhelms. And a thought, managed carefully and with love, can be more powerful than anything.