A short write on this chilly Monday morning — the puppy’s getting ready to be out in this frost. Myself, I’ve finally broken out the hat and gloves. I hold out as long as possible, every year, building up my tolerance, not wanting to give in to the actuality of winter. Sink into the dark, sure, but wear clothes enough to really protect my body from the elements? What do you take me for — a wuss? (That right there is a survivorprompt for another day)
How are you caring for yourself this morning? How does the candlelight find you?
What’s up for today? The Winter’13 workshop sessions are all officially underway; the last one, Write Whole, begins tonight, and I am looking forward to inviting this final workshop into my Oakland space. My body is in a state of what I am calling healed — though my piriformis and I continue to have daily conversations involving stretching, spasm-release and fluttering. It feels like she’s winking rapidly at me from within my backside, which I would like to take as something as light as flirtation rather than the profound release that she’s allowing us to settle into.
I am aware, on this morning, that I have had, over the last couple of months, the experience of re-learning how to walk. Sometimes in this healing we (or at least I) have to break all the way down in order to come into consciousness around what we know, how far we’ve come, and to get more deeply into the next layers that need some laying on of hands (whether psychic or physical). Have you had this experience, of everything falling apart just when you were sure you’d finally put the last piece into your puzzle? I want to say something profound here but all I can say is that I’ve managed to keep writing during all this loss and fear and uncertainty, even on the days when I had to put the notebook and my body on the floor because I couldn’t occupy a chair. And then there were days when I tried that and couldn’t write, when I was too frustrated or it hurt too much, even prone; when I couldn’t focus on one word after another because of the hurt in my body. And those were ok days, too — necessary, even, I imagine. Those were days when I just had to be with the hurt, with this hurt body– truly with it.
A week or so ago, when I was walking, still a bit painfully, to a cafe in my neighborhood, I tried to read a new book to take my mind off the hurt, and to dive into something else. Turned out I couldn’t focus; the hurt in my hip wasn’t awful, but it claimed my attention. I had to stop every few yards, bend over and stretch, before I could continue. There was no way for me to sustain the attention required to dive into some metaphysics of poetry and space; I was too busy navigating it in real time. So I held the book in one hand, and breathed deep into the ache, listened to what happened as I moved, and asked my body– not just this one muscle but all the rest, too, that wanted to tighten in solidarity– to release. It took all of my attention to be with and move through the flow of this pain. I felt small flutters, as though my piriformis were releasing its spasm one fiber at a time. That day, once I got to the cafe, I was able to sit and write for an hour or so; and when I walked back, the hurt was less — I could take the better part of a block before I had to stop, bend double and stretch.
I’m beginning to go back through my notebooks from these months, to see what’s harvestable from the writing I did– and, to read again just what the hell happened. I see how I came to a full stop, met new layers of loss and disappointment; I see how frustrated I was at my inability to multitask (that is, dissociate a bit or just not be fully present in any given moment); I see how (understandably!) reluctant I was to be all the way in my body when it was hurting so bad. And I see between the lines that older disappointment, at having been alone when I was younger and my body was being hurt by someone else, how deeply that shame drove its way into my body.
On this day, I’m now able to hear differently the songs the deep inside of my body is singing, has been singing to me. Sophie and I are headed out for a walk, and I will not have to stop and stretch out the ache seven or ten times just walking half-way up the block. I will move more slowly, though, and still (by necessity) more mindfully. It’s a hard won gratitude today, but I’m holding it.
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What songs might be rising (or caught) in the deep inside of your, or your character’s, body? Can you take some time with this prompt today, or this week? Find twenty minutes at least — this one will, I think, open up the more you write into it. Follow your writing wherever it (and your body) seem to invite you to go. And be easy with you in this week.
Keep writing. Keep listening deep. Thank you for your presence and patience, for your dance and stillness, for your words.