Here’s a story: Yesterday, I spent a bit of time helping my friend, Alex, get ready to move. I don’t like this part of the story, because I don’t want her to move. She’s giving away a bunch of stuff, and I snagged a small bookshelf, a mug, a bag of things from the fridge, a couple of pet carriers, a cast iron cauldron. Everything fit into the car–snug, but still–and we got it all home. I gave Alex a long hug and said See you later (not Goodbye).
When I was taking the bookshelf out of the backseat, I got a serious splinter deep in the third finger of my right hand. Upstairs, in the house, I fussed over the splinter for a long while — I squeezed at it, got out the tweezers and tried to dig out the wood; the Mr. went and got a needle and tried to pull it out, but that didn’t work either. I soaked it in warm water, then tried everything again, but it was just in too deep. So I went to bed, still with splinter, invader, in my hand. I thought about letting the body do its work.
This morning, when I woke up, the area around the splinter was red and aching; I washed it and cleaned it, then started to do my morning writing. After a bit, I squeezed the splinter, and the wood pushed–easy, slick– out of the wound. My body had already started the process of expelling this foreign object, this invasion, this unwelcome thing. I barely had to do anything, but got the tweezers anyway, and took out the wood.
This feels like a metaphor, in and around the matter-of-facts. I’m thinking about old ways of thinking, behaviors, even trigger responses that are manifestations of this exact physiological response: my body doing what it’s built to do, without any real intervention from me. What happens when I step back, let the body do her work? Trust the body to do her work?
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ETA: Katrina, in her comment to this post, shared the following fantastic quote from Ranier Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet:
“If there is anything morbid in your processes, just remember that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself of foreign matter; so one must just help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and break out with it, for that is its progress. In you, dear mr. kappus, so much is now happening; you must be patient as a sick man and confident as a convalescent; for perhaps you are both. and more: you are the doctor, too, who has to watch over himself. but there are in every illness many days when the doctor can do nothing by wait. and this it is that you, insofar as you are your own doctor, must now above all do.”
Yes yes yes.
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Want to use it as a prompt? What invasions have your body, your psyche, encircled in a coating that protects you from them, and prepared to expel? What happens when you or your characters trust your/their bodies?
Take this wherever you want to; follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.
Thank you thank you, on this Monday morning. Thank you for your youness, your words.