Monday, August 27, 2012

What does not want to be whole?

“I don’t know how to let go of that,” she said moments before her cervicals were readjusted, so palpable was her slip that the moment froze and echoed off the walls. Many of us, do not know who we are without being defined by the pain of our previous stories.
Several years ago, I jammed my right ankle on a lava rock, resulting in several years of compensation. Years of limited motion, or days of paying the price after a good hike, limping in pain as swelling from  an overworked subtalar joint and tarsals subsided, easing back into walking upright.
My foot jam occurred on my first summer in Kaua’i, on my birthday, with a slice of birthday cake in hand. A juxtaposition of emotions, no?

Our bones carry our emotional stories: “As a carpenter, I have to lift heavy machinery;”  “As a Mom, my lower back aches from carrying the baby;” “Oh, my hands have never worked right since…”
Our bones can also be road mapped to the store house of emotions: our organs. Inflammations and uneasiness in our body can be created in a multitude of ways; one of which is how we live our bodies; another is how we live in our minds.

Recently, standing up to my ankles in water and mud in a taro patch, I ruminated on this less than perfect ankle of mine. What would it take, I thought, to have this ankle be whole again: surgery? more work? What?
Later on that day, I injured my foot. The ball joints of the big toe were jammed backwards. It hurt. A lot.  I could no longer place any weight on the foot. The pain was not a throbbing or inflammatory; it was a searing snap to attention. The type of pain that the rest of the day’s details fall away and I have nothing to notice but the present moment.
Between myself and a few other hands the joint was reset; the tendons coaxed back to their proper standing, and four days later I was standing in the dry sands of Kona working again, fully standing.
The ankle had full range of motion. The new injury was rectified and so was my elder wound. Why?
I have heard that many of us define ourselves in what we can and cannot do: great gardener, not a woodworker. Great with words, cannot play music. Can go to yoga, not sure on public speaking. I can’t move my neck, my shoulder, my back…a few years ago (fill in life event) and on the story goes. The event happens once. The retelling repatterns muscle memory, a constant instruction to the body self to hold the pattern of pain. Is it that simple?
Yes and no.
Are there severe physical traumas, of course. Am I talking about those, probably not.
Am I talking about assumptions and the conditioning of muscle memory that allows us to taut that we cannot return to a state of fullness and claim ourselves whole and not broken? Yes.
Why would we do that?
Good question.

if you move carefully
through the forest

like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

that can make
or unmake
a life,

that have patiently
waited for you,

that have no right
to go away.

- David Whyte

My ankle, you ask? It reset. It moves in circles and straight lines. It carries my weight wholly forward, and I intend to keep it that way.

Click here for a great article by David Whyte

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

J.Krishnamurti, an Empty Heineken, and a Little bit of Independence

            “Did you see where it go?”
            “Nah. But I think so, it went down when he try and catch –“ is barely off my lips before Makalohi glides across the beach and dives easily under the waves.
            It is a perfect blue of a day on O`ahu - the water, the sky, the light - all brilliant and crisp in a multitude of hues: azure, turquoise and periwinkle. Standing along the shoreline in Waimanalo at a child’s birthday party, one of the littler attendees had retrieved an adult’s empty green bottle, using it to play water games. One quick wave, and the empty Heineken buoyed away from the child into the deeper waters just out of reach.
            Makalohi’s brother tried to retrieve the empty bottle, but his little arms and legs, where unable to reach. Unable to stand by and watch, his sister slipped into the ocean to retrieve the unattended mess.
            “Is she looking for something?” a little girl of about six, in a navy and hot pink Hello Kitty bathing suits asks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Extreme Care: Flight 1895


            “Did you see that?” he umpfs.
            “No. What?” I answer as my foot casually pushes my bag under the seat in front of me.
            “Fallen Solider. Just put on the plane.”
            “F**king cardboard box.”
            “What?” I swivel.
            “They always say, don’t they, ‘Don’t end up in a cardboard box,’ and that’s what he was in a cardboard box,” he looks right through me, continuing,  “Cardboard, and plywood frame. Not a plywood box, but a frame of wood so I guess he doesn’t roll out, with a stamp that says ‘Extreme Care,’ and a baby blue handle.”
            “To grab –“
            “No, just a trimming, just a bit of trimming. The stewardess says that sometimes the captain of the plane will get out and salute him, but they are tight on time today,” his eyes, still moving, meet mine.
            “That is incredible, I –“
            “You should have seen it. I mean on tv they show you all of what they want you to see, but they don’t want you to see that. No they don’t want you to f**kin’ see that. You would think a family member or someone from the service would – “
            “If the government won’t pay for a box, why would they pay for someone to fly with the body?”
            “You’re right,” he laughs uncomfortably. “Ain’t that the truth. You’re right. What a fool.”

            Forty-five minutes later, I discover the man’s name: Michael. He is a successful lawyer, travels avidly, surrounds himself with fascinating people, enjoys financial freedom, blackjack, boxing, cigars and affairs, living in a loveless marriage of twenty years with a woman he compartmentalizes his respect for as a “phenomenal mother, but not my match as a partner.”
            It’s amazing what we will tell strangers, is it not?
            “Now, I’m not judging, but the affairs, really twelve?”
            “If I’m honest,” he sips his Gatorade, “but the last one is the only one I would have left my wife for.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

Absolutely Worth It

                                                                   Photo by Joe Longo

I woke up grumpy. A little frantic. A little ungrounded. A lot ungrateful.
I took my grumpy self to Highpointe CafĂ©, and berated myself along the way for: running out of my way to buy a coffee when I could save the money, the time and the dehydration.  I took my perfectly poured cup, sans one sip into the car, and grumbled about my little naggings of lack, slipped the unstable cup almost into the cupholder and viola: it exploded all over my car.
I laughed.
Apparently someone wanted to teach me a lesson about ingratitude. Call it the Universe, Murphy’s Law, Self, I got what I asked for: nothing.
The same time that I was coffeeless and chagrined, I received a text from a friend who was having a kick ass morning. Everything was unexpectedly going right for them.
I stopped.
Apparently someone wanted to show me what else could be happening: everything.
I sat on the porch, awaiting my clients, and realizing what a little brat I was being to the Universe. Here I am, doing what I love, with people I adore, and I was complaining and worrying over things that hadn’t happened yet. Translation: things that may never happen. I was so busy complaining that I had to start dropping things I did want to make room for all my grumblings. Sure it was just a cup of coffee, but the Universe fills the Space with what you are holding Space for. I was pouting, arms crossed, no room to receive, so I lost a little something.
I ended my day, after full sessions with wonderful clients, sitting at a restaurant raucously laughing with a dear friend over the humilities of life. I strolled down the very same street I had clomped down earlier that morning a much happier person.
I reflected on my morning spill, my rant of worries: How to get plan a, b, and z done perfectly. How I would ever finish my curriculum, juggle travel, open my heart, and get my teeth cleaned. How I would overcome obstacles that I was creating for myself, begrudging that I was not doing or being enough, guilting myself for being too indulgent, too reckless, too this, too that.
Then, I shut my mind up. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but right now, as I slipped down Germantown Avenue, I was good. The night was good. Life was good.
That coffee was priceless. It turned my whole day around.  $3.50 and a whole lot of scrubbing of white vinegar eradicated my sour residue. What a small price to pay.