the Thousand Cranes are finished.

Posted on 01.11.2015


They’ve actually been finished since December 8, 2013. It only took 2 years since completion to get them hung!

Since completingIMG_5889 the project, I’ve had to talk about it a lot with my students, because we often talk about it in lessons. I started the project just to see if I could do it, honestly, but also to keep my hands active. When you have MS, one of the most important things you should do is stay active. Allowing the disease to scare you into inaction and complacency causes a lot of people’s conditions to deteriorate, very quickly.

My students often tell me that ‘folding 1,000 cranes is something that women do’, and apparently, they do it when someone is really ill, in the hospital, etc. From my own research, I understood that this is ONE of the uses for the cranes, but that you might also be granted a wish, or earn eternal health, or something like that.

I realized that part about halfway through the folding process, so I decided to think about what I would wish for at the end while I was folding them. I folded them in multiple countries, all over the world as I traveled in 2013. It took something like 8 months to complete, and anyone who saw me that year might remember my constant folding, folders full of cranes and packages of origami paper.

I finished the cranes on the night of December 8, sitting in my bed in our rented room in Ringmer, UK. I was up waiting for Mark to get home from his bar-tending job. This was pretty normal for us at this point, as we counted down the days until we could fly to Japan and begin our new life.

I was reaIMG_5891lly sick at the time, since I’d basically been off my meds for a few months. It was like a relapse, almost, but mostly just general weakness. I finally learned what I look like when I’m off the meds. I couldn’t walk down stairs unaided, or take a shower standing up. I was forcing myself to eat, thinking it might help me regain energy. On a few occasions, Mark had to help me wash my hair. It was a really low point for us, as we lived week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck, counting down the pounds and dollars in our bank accounts. Folding the cranes gave me a goal, something to do to keep my hands and mind active, as I sat around all day waiting to feel better, and waiting to move to Japan.

When I finished the cranes, I knew my wish. I won’t state it here, but it wasn’t for my own personal health, even though I guess that was what I should have wished for. I wished for something bigger than that, and folded the wish up in our travel journal.


hanger #1, 500 cranes: in the bedroom

2 years later, I want to say that the wish has come true so far, although it is a long-running wish. On top of that, I flew to Japan and got my health back. I might not be able to do forward rolls or a one-legged tree pose yet, but I’m getting there. I can walk down stairs, sometimes without the banister. I can go running. I can do yoga, carefully. And I’ve felt great since I got on my new meds.

So these cranes deserve to be seen, to be displayed, to show that maybe dreams and wishes can come true. And that’s why they’re hanging in our house now, regardless of the ‘time limit’ that might be ascribed to them.

Maybe that’s not the story I can tell my students. It’s too long and too personal for most of them. However, I DO like to tell them that now I can have my spare room back to do yoga.


hanger #2, 500 cranes, going in the kitchen.