The first knuckle on my left hand and foot have been hurting.
I am THIS close to googling “arthritis” and scaring the crap out of myself.
But I was on the phone the other day with a wise friend, and I happened to mention it.
That friend’s a coach, damn her, so she said, “Oh, good, let’s ask the pain what’s it’s trying to tell you!”
Be ye warned. Coaches make the MOST IRRITATING friends. They won’t let you get away with ANYthing!!! (But they’re also the best. Because hello, free coaching!)
SO she had me talk to the first knuckle of my left first finger and my left big toe.
It was so embarrassing.
But the funny thing was, I got an immediate answer from those kvetching achy knuckles. They spoke in chorus, like in a Greek tragedy, but more petulant– like the Gilmore Girls with a bad cold.
Be mindful of how you touch the earth, please.
I started laughing. I was half irritated, half elated. I knew exactly what it meant.
My body was telling me to be more mindful of it, for fuck’s sake.
See, background: I really like my mind a lot. It’s full of SO MANY shiny toys and squirrels! Blink blink ding ding PING!!!
My body, and this whole mortal physical coil, for that matter, are so much more demanding. So slow. So messy. So heavy.
They feel like the big damn fly in the ointment.
And yet!! Oh my god, we have bodies, you guys!!! This is so amazing!!! In fact most of the important things I have learned, like oh all right EVER, have come through listening to my body and learning to care for the most mundane physical aspects of my oozy little physical self.
My sweet little aching joints were reminding me to be gentle. Gentle with myself, with my daughter, with my home, with these crazy tender precious things we can touch. It was like some ancient part of me was whispering, Hello!!! You get to TOUCH THINGS!!! Please pay attention to how amazing this is!!!!! Proceed with the appropriate reverence, in the name of all that is fucking holy!!!
I will not stop quoting Mary Oliver’s over-quoted poem Wild Geese, because in one bit of poetry she summed up everything I am trying to say, ever. I know you’ve read it. Read it again. Because GOOD LORD.
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
My whole being relaxes when I hear that. Some old tension lets go, something I’m not even consciously aware that I’m holding. It undoes its knots of desperation and slides into the primordial ooze with a sigh of relief.
There is this spot of pause, of quiet, the great hush of all possibility.
This is a good place to go. Really. It’s not decadent, my friends.
All good things start from here.
And from this place, you can do no harm.
Some people get there by meditating. I love meditating, I do. In theory.
But I’ll tell you that most of my biggest epiphanies have come as I engage myself in the more humdrum matters closer at hand.
What’s on my table. The words that roll off my tongue. What I wear. How I do my hair. Whether I take a shower like a dreaded chore or turn it into a blissful exploration of pleasure.
Something remarkable happens when a woman cultivates bliss (aka the fucking awareness that everything is fucking holy) in her humble daily habits.
She holds herself differently.
She communicates clearly.
She says No kindly.
She says Yes and does not regret it.
She learns her body’s innate rhythm of movement and rest.
So then she gets more done but has more energy.
She laughs with her kid.
She smiles that gooood smile at her partner.
She lets the little things go.
She’s more fun.
She gets that secret shimmer back.
P.S. It’s 9 o’clock. Do you know where your secret shimmer is? I DO. It’s in The Bliss Conspiracy. We start Sunday!
P.P.S. Watch for an important mail tomorrow about Hepburns. As in, Audrey and Katharine, those great senseis.