Friday, August 23, 2013

"Your very flesh shall be a great poem." - Walt Whitman

Today.

Two weeks ago.

In the months before my seizure, I'd been thinking a lot about my body. Dave and I had given up our house and were living a traveling life, so I was becoming more and more aware of how my body is my true home.

Yet I've spent a lot of my life judging my body. I've been like an abusive spouse at times, berating my body for being too much this, or not enough that.  If I talked to other people the way my inner voice talked to my body, I'd be a cruel person.

So I began to wonder why I haven't been nicer to this amazing space suit that propels me through the world. All the judgments of the body create an agitation, an ongoing dissatisfaction, an inability to be fully at peace.

Any time I judged my body, it was as though I was trying to jail-break. Other times, the dissatisfactions with my body led to physically abusing it (extreme exercise) or numbing it (too much booze) or ignoring it (mind distractions).

I wanted to allow myself to comfortably inhabit my home.

To create a more gentle, peaceful relationship with my body, I began to focus on feeling myself from the inside. I meditated on my organs, thanking them for doing their work. I began to understand more deeply how my heart doesn't need me to beat it, how my digestion happens without my conscious effort, how my lungs would continue to breathe even if I was unconscious.

Maybe part of me knew what was coming:  Body Dwelling Smack Down! I was soon to face the biggest inhabiting-the-body challenge: Illness.

Due to the nature of brain surgery, I couldn't use avoid-my-body strategies. I had to give up alcohol and caffeine. I couldn't focus on screens:  no TV, no phone, no computer, no Kindle. I couldn't read. Even my beloved music hurt my head. The doctor went so far as to say, "Don't think too much. Let your mind rest."

I couldn't take a walk, do yoga, talk on the phone. I couldn't even escape into sleep because sleep was elusive.

It was a challenge from the universe:  Just be.

But be here? In this body that's been sliced open at the top? The one where the scalp has been peeled back and the skull drilled through? The one with a gap in the brain slowly filling with spinal fluid?

I could hear creaks and groans and pops in my head--like a house settling. But these noises weren't only "in my head." They were so loud, Dave could hear them too!

All that surgical poking around in the pre-motor region of my left brain affected my right hand. Two days after surgery, I couldn't hold a coffee cup or remove the toothpaste lid.

I had to decide:  Was this going to creep me out? Was I going to feel like a haunted house? Was I going to try to escape my body through dreadful thoughts? Was I going to freak out each time something made a weird noise or sensation? Was I going to go to the dark place and imagine there were so many things wrong?

Not that those thoughts never tried to creep in. But I consciously worked on cultivating the notion that nothing had gone wrong. That all was well. Even in the dark of night, waiting for dawn to light up the room, I deliberately dwelled inside.

Each noise in my head I recognized as healing. I thought, with awe, about how my brain and skull were adjusting to the new normal. How miraculous that it was all being held together with medical versions of glue and staples.

I thanked my right hand for all it had done for me over the years. I felt it from the inside-out. Lovingly, slowly, I touched each finger to my thumb, back and forth like playing scales on the piano. Like a child, I pressed Silly Putty in my fist. I thought about the miracle of my shaved hair beginning to sprout forth in just days like little leaves of grass.

Our bodies are constantly renewing. They say every seven years all of our cells are replaced. I am viscerally experiencing that renewal. A deep admiration for my body, my home, is blooming in me.


"Do anything, but let it produce joy."  - Walt Whitman

Post a Comment