A few days ago the intricately integrated and complex musculature on which my bones depend for the ability to flex and move put up an argument and demanded that I pay them closer attention.
I am not an athlete – not even close. I may be allergic to gyms, certainly in attitude if not in fact. I don’t exercise per se nor lift weights though I’ve done yoga and stretching sporadically for many years. I like to walk in the woods.
Having my movements inhibited by pain is attention-grabbing and instructive. I don’t think about moving. I prepare works for exhibition, transport and hang paintings (Schlepper is my middle name), deconstruct my house (the kitchen floor is the project-of-the-week), plant, tend the garden, rake leaves, leaves, leaves, turn compost, sweep, shovel, up and down the stairs who-knows-how-many times a day carrying laundry, books, paintings, tools, lumber, five-gallon buckets of joint compound – you get the idea. I stretch to reach high shelves because my kitchen was not designed for a small person. All of these moments hardly register in my consciousness. I’m a jumping bean. Sitting still, not hopping up when I remember something I forgot to do or because the dryer buzzer went off or the phone rings is an on-going practice whether I’m meditating or not.
With nowhere to go time seems to expand. So much to let go of! No holiday hustle, no flurry of gift making and wrapping, no baking, no cleaning, no decorating. So much to notice: a life with an abundance of friends, this delicious soup, and the quiet surrounding me. It seems I’m being offered things I clearly need to learn: to pause by choice, to slow down, to reflect, perhaps, on how I spend my energy. When I am well enough I will go down to the creek, sit there a long time and observe water in it’s many forms, watch all the different ways it moves, take in how the low angle of the sun lights up the tree skeletons and darkens their shadows. I will ponder my capacity to change my pace.
Today it’s sunny, clear and cold here. It’s the Solstice, when the sun appears to be still in the sky on this day marking the end of autumn and the beginning of winter. Life outside slows down. I, a slow learner, follow its silent instruction.