Archive for April, 2010

Forgetting And Remembering

April 28, 2010

I woke up hungry this morning, but deeply hungry. My usual banana and coffee did nothing to assuage the feeling of emptiness. A bowl of cereal made it possible to walk with the dogs, but the sense of lack was still with me. I have put menial tasks  ahead of this blog, not wanting to write of restlessness  or discontentment. Each time I approached the keyboard, I faced the emptiness – my mind as filled with longing as the rest of me. No words would come; no words could express my present state of being. And they still can’t. For I am a secret from myself; I cannot share what I don’t yet know. Even as I may manage to fill this page, the door will stay locked, the mystery remain hidden – until…

I wrote the above three days ago, and I long to write that things have changed, but if any thing, my state of longing has intensified. Last night I lay wakeful, my belly growling with unease. I have written that my body has been wanting my attention. This still seems to be the case. My inclination is to say: “Be still… Be quiet… Just let me get on with life.” But we continue to be at odds, my body and me, regardless of my recent affirmation of my sensual side. I slipped away too quickly from  that blessed awareness. That day of glowing sweetness  seems forever ago. I guess my body is truly disappointed.

It waxed so hopefull as we moved together through that afternoon, awake to breezy warmth caressing sensitive skin. The park where I walked with the pups was a lush green envelope into which I was gratefully received. I belonged. I remember belonging, not in an abstract way, but fully alive to the physicality of my relationship with trees, birds, water. Substance of one was substance of the other. The sun-warmed bark of tree was more than visible. I felt its rough substantiality – and the feathery green foliage newly sprung from their extremities seemed to reach and touch and stroke without reserve the woman present in their midst. Yes, I remember being lover to the trees, and knowing the exhilaration of a warbler’s flight. The eager lapping of the waves against the shore was titilating and delicious to the earth and me. And I was not afraid of what I felt. Let me not be afraid of what I feel.

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The Sensuality of Solitude

April 21, 2010

This morning I dare to affirm my sensual reality. Being a woman over sixty,  who lives alone with two dogs and a cat in a woodsy domain, I tend to shy away from the thought of my body as a sensitive instrument still capable of intense response. Yet I live in this body, and regardless of my avoidance, it continues to be alive to itself. It has an intelligence of its own, and asserts its needs as my mind does its best to distract me from physical sensation.

I have lived for a great many years, and for most  of  those years I aligned my mind with my body. Had I any choice? To dance was to celebrate physical consciousness. My mind agreed that this was my reason for being, and yielded itself to the wisdom of the body, merged itself with the ecstacy of emotional release. I gave myself wholeheartedly to this dance,  whether I was actually dancing or engaging in the love dance of relationships. This was my way of life: not holding back. Certainly, I suffered at times, but I was alive.

I think that I have been a casualty of the aging process. For whatever reason, I have learned to separate mind from body for much of the time. I tell myself it is easier to get through the days without being too aware of the body’s yearnings. I rarely think of the possibility that my skin wants touching, that my nerves reach blindly for some kind of contact. It is true that  my hands involuntarily collide with the soft warm bodies of my pets a thousand times a day. A stroke or touch is a vital reminder that I exist. Sometimes I have to bury my face in the furry warmth of my sleeping dog before I can go on with whatever foolish occupation my mind has set before me. Some part of me knows that I continue to be a sensual being.

Today I remind myself of that. As I move through the rest of the day, I shall notice the sweet, strong presence of my physical self, seek to celebrate its smallest longing and response. May it be the teacher, lover, companion of my older years, and may we mutually rejoice once more in the language of the senses.

Faith In The Blooming

April 17, 2010

Life is on hold, Wednesday’s pause drawn out by my body’s slowness to heal. The virus lingers, insuring an isolation  that I begin to struggle against, despite the grogginess induced by medications meant to ease my symptoms. Perhaps my breathing is less labored;  the coughing subdued except as night approaches and when I first rise in the morning. But I don’t feel well, and my patient acceptance of the “blessed pause” is wearing thin. So I turn to this blog, but with some trepidation. My head may nod, my eyelids droop – before I’m done.

I thought I might write of spring, for despite my limited participation, spring has definitely been happening.  When my illness had barely begun, the wisteria reached its peak, cascading opportunistically over everything. Purple clusters spilled from trees and draped themselves over azalea bushes just starting to bloom. Their unique fragrance overwhemed my congested airways, and as their petals dispersed, a delicate carpet was laid for my wandering feet. The azaleas finally came into their own,  large magenta  blossoms crowding out the slower buds. Overgrown bushes laden with lush, rich color were almost too much as my ailment progressed. Some senses impaired left other  senses  recoiling from stimulation. I have found myself almost relieved  to see the  passionate blooms replaced by soggy remnants of themselvess. This spring I have scarecly appreciated the feast, but today as I made my way with the little dogs, my eyes came to rest on a veritable sea of yellow Irises. Their green stalks have thrust themselves up through the mud of the wetlands  below my house. Now they stand like regal sentries displaying their elegant hats. I smile at their obvious pride  in their annual  accomplishment. But they give me hope, having risen from the murky depths where they lay dormant – patiently waiting for their time to bloom.

Blessed Pause

April 14, 2010

In the dance, I have always trusted those moments when movement arrives at a stillness so profound that one is liberated from the obvious dance of the physical body. This effortless pause exists between the breaths; it can happen at the crest or in the trough. Isadora called it the “moment of repose”. It is easily recognizable when I am dancing; though brief, it feels eternal. It is the bliss that makes the dance worthwhile.

In the dance of every day life, it is more difficult to recognize the pause as spiritual, less clear that this is a moment that could refresh. Even as I have always known my dance of Airth as a model for the dance of life, I rarely achieve in life the fluid acceptance that comes so naturally to my dancing body. These days as my physical dance subsides somewhat, I know that the dance  I face each day is the dance I am learning to trust. Instead of the special room set aside for my focused practice, with nothing to distract me from my bliss, I do my awkward best to sustain my dance – with distraction as my less than ideal partner.

So where is the “moment of repose”? Well, occasionally these are forced upon us. What seems an interruption of our precious routine can be percieved as the blessed pause our souls are craving. Grace intervenes in the form of a common cold. Grace, or baby Bryce, infected my system with just the right germs to suspend the usual gestures. I am held in the trough of minor discomfort, just enough physical disability to draw out my stillness over several days. Laryngitus has stolen my voice, and during this strange suspension of my vocal cords,  I find myself listening to a voice that seems to issue from another place. This voice soothes and calms and loves me into a state of trust. I trust my children and their children to survive without me, and other family  members to move through their lives free of my little efforts at pleasing and pacifying. I am blessedly silent, blessedly still. Even the dogs can get by with moderate response from their beloved mistress. Love is a given.

And what of the artist’s gestures, the painting that fiercely splashed itself onto last week’s paper. Well, the top of the crest was achieved, and the breathed out blog that followed. Now I rest in pondering mode as it tells me to linger a while. In this time of gestation – this grace-filled moment, I need do nothing.

Living It – Painting It

April 9, 2010

After that last blog, I measured, cut, and tacked up a large sheet of paper; put out clean brushes, a bowl of fresh water, the naked palette on which to squeeze out blobs of bright color. I was ready for a fulfillment that would have to be postponed until my Wednesday obligation was completed. Some part of me was ready, even reassured, as I gave another part of me completely to the nurturing of my baby grandson, tiny lovable tyrant that he is. I played, fed, rocked, wept, loved, and prayed my way through those long demanding hours, stretching the particles of leiflife between the baby, his precocious three-year-old sister, and my precious and beleaguered son – their father. You must understand, that even as I am wrung dry, emotionally and physically, by participating in their lives, my heart is fiercely, gladly churning  with love.

Love got me through those hours, and through a night of erratic sleep. I woke up tired. Yet the paper was in place, and I was open enough to take a chance – even if my first attempt appeared to fail.  One does what one does. One goes through familiar motions without much thought for outcome. The important thing is to invite the subconscious – to entice the subconscious to break through accumulated barriers. One simply goes ahead, observing as much as making the strokes – seeing the color appear on the clean white paper.  It is a brave act, because possibly those first strokes will be made up of flying debris. The barrier,  formed of bits and pieces amassed over time, is breaking up and being released. Once you stand back, the blessed release could look like a mess.

And this is what I see on the large square surface of the paper. A colossal mess of brilliant color – chaotic beauty that tempts me to search for form and meaning.  In the swirling, sweeping explosion of color, some shapes are present: Circular; a huricane-like profusion of red, yellow, greenish blue, with a calm blue center. Then an area  reminiscent of a fetus: curling, pink and purple, intimate and soft. I also see it as a butterfly or flower: wings/petals unfurling, fragile as hope. Below it lies an expanse of fertile green: long upward strokes form a sea of promise, but in the midst is a loop or knot that stops me in my tracks. I want to erase the dark obstruction. Painting over it made it stronger, even more obvious. It catches my eye and makes me want to fight its presence in the promising vista. And the messy swirling hurricane asks for neatening up.

I’ve been here before: gazing at abstraction – trying to see some clarity – trying to interpret a garbled message – wanting, oh wanting a recognizable picture of who I am. What if I’m looking at it? What if this glorious indecipherable mess is me – this painting an honest image of my present state? Don’t I know my life is messy these days? Perhaps the process of painting it, seeing it, and accepting it as it is can help me to feel less at the mercy of external forces.

I Am Here

April 7, 2010

It has been a whole week since I’ve written here. As I face this screen, dread causes a hot flash to race through my body. How can one write when words seem inadequate, when feeling is rampant, thoughts jumbled from having been put on hold for too long?

I’ve been baking all week. On Saturday, in the midst, I called my beloved friend, Kendall, and for a short time I returned to myself. For years,  she and I have been reminderers to one another. Saturday was no exception; almost immediately I felt relief. Ahhh… Re-leif… My body and mind let go of the stress they were holding, and out of the depths came a smideon of truth. “I am abstract,” said I. She laughed and echoed the word: “…abstract.” I could tell she liked the word, and suddenly I could see myself: my abstract self as a painting. I told her so. “Yes,” she exclaimed. “Yes, yes! You must paint who you are. A thousand self-portraits, and send them to me.”

Actually, I have been wanting to paint, but the creative force seems held in check by whatever holds me in check as I go about mundane tasks and familial interraction. Expressing myself has begun to feel dangerous – barely controllable. What might happen if I give her free rein? I feel explosive. Just getting the paper cut and tacked up ,or canvas set up and primed – paint squeezed out on the palette, and brushes selected, requires a calm I cannot imagine.  But perhaps I can. I have hit these keys – one at a time, making words to describe the undescribable. Some determined element has kept me to this life-preserving task. Surely this same element will  sustain me through the preparations necessary for further release.