Simplicity is my intention for 2017 ... along with Devotion (ah, yielding to the Gemini rising in my natal chart ... gotta have two intentions!) I excel at overthinking, over complicating matters so Simplicity will be a real practice for me. It is already helping me find a path back in after a tumble down the hillside of illness and emotional exhaustion.
Lacking any sophisticated, clever or inspired account of the past month or so, I realize Simplicity tells me to just show up and begin again. Here's my story du jour: I thought I had injured my back and thankfully, that wasn't the case. (I worried I would no longer be able to volunteer with mucking out stalls, turning out horses - the one job I always look forward to!) What I had was a case of the shingles thankfully with no rash, just weird sensations and occasional flashes of intense and random pain. (At times it felt like I had an alien inside my body attacking my back or stomach muscles.) Still, the virus along with polar bear chilling temperatures, have kept me house bound for weeks.
Weeks at home with only the dog and my loopy aunt of a mind to keep me company.
Weeks to ponder my itchy navel. (Right side only)
Weeks shuffling about the house in the one pair of comfy, loose-fitting and warm pants that I own ... weeks wearing oversized underwear of my husband's (who knew?! Men's underwear is infinitely more comfortable! No leg elastic! All cotton, no miracle fabric that tries to mold or cling to my delicate parts ... and no, I flatly refuse what my husband oh-so-gently tried to suggest to me: that perhaps I have been wearing a size too small of my lady-panties. Hogwash!) A slippery slope for sure. The prevailing mood: Meh and What's the point?
I have no agenda. I have no plans, no real ambitions. This entire past year I have felt like the Hanged Man in the Tarot ... swinging and dangling and wondering when will I be cut down? After frustration, after despair, after confusion and resistance ... yup ... surrender. A slow but steady shedding of the layers of identity that I believed were necessary to bring meaning to my existence, to who I believe I am meant to be.
Lying in bed at 3 am, the virus attacking my back, waiting for a pain pill to kick in, with Mad Men on Netflix keeping me company ... it was a strange kind of rebirthing experience. (I felt squeezed by life in a not-so-loving way) My body, living, current events (the world ruled it seems by upside thinking and pretzel logic) have me redefining how I want to be living each day. "You've got to find what matters most to you." This was the advice given to the writer/doctor Paul Kalanithi after receiving a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. (When Breath Becomes Air is his beautiful and thought provoking memoir, published after his death)
Apparently, birds matter a lot to me. Interesting experiment: leave lots of pictures on your camera and months later, download them. I had 78 pictures of birds taken from my back window. (A discovery which means I am more my father's daughter than I have allowed myself to believe ... as inheritor of his boxes of seagull slides, the relationship is hard to miss)
These past weeks I have leaned upon what matters to me:
- my yoga practice (choosing again The Simple: basic poses, breath practices that enliven and refresh my body and mind; complex postures are not better, merely complex)
- creative practice (learning, playing, observing, pushing myself to develop and grow by taking a drawing class online; immersing myself in the basics of line, tone, color theory and learning about my tools and technique)
- time simply spend connecting with family and friends
Rather than fixating on making something of my life, I am focused upon the simple act of living it. Or at least observing it when weather and illness prevent me from a more active existence.
Having fun certainly (there has been much binge watching of Six Feet Under, Mad Men, X-Files, Vera - all in the service of knitting time, of course!) but in turn, my chance to squeeze life back.
Simply put: to be fiercely disciplined with myself about how I show up in my life: how I speak, what I do, what I think and where I place my energy and attention. And when I catch myself stepping off track, I simply step back on path.