Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One worth saving -- The depths.

Originally posted on myspace on Monday, October 08, 2007  

The depths.
Current mood:  contemplative
Category: Life

My body has always been a very instructive tool. It will tell me things I will not tell myself--plunge me into places I do not wish to tread.  No therapist could ever hope to be half as effective. Today, as I lay on the mat in physical therapy, my body slowly being crushed by the frigid air conditioning to the point that I wanted to both throw up and cry--I went there. To that place behind the hard spot. I was forced to sit in the soft space beneath my carapace, feeling all the emotions that came from that moment of helplessness and despair.

I don't let anyone into this space. There are a few people with whom I can be when I'm here. They never try to get in. They just let me be. Sit with me until I can come back. Their quiet presence makes me feel safe, like I won't get lost. Some of them don't even know that is what they are doing.

The body knows everything, stores everything. The brain is good at disconnecting from the body, ignoring it's pleas for attention, pushing it to perform in ways sometimes good, sometimes damaging. All of the emotions we experience do not just shoot through our hearts and souls--they shoot through our muscles and bones. Especially the ones that do not make it to, or that are rejected by, the brain.

Whenever we mindfully and consciously delve into the body, whether to repair it, tone it, build it, master it, we find ourselves faced with everything we've stored in there. The less mindfully you've been living otherwise, the more shocked you may be.

It sometimes feels like I can't get through that hard spot inside me; my body reminds me I can, however, get underneath it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Why is this place called Rough Branch?

Rough Branch is a reference to Wendell Berry's "mad farmer" poems. Berry is an agrarian populist poet, and advocate for sustainable agricultural practices. I don't agree with every position he takes, but his reverence for the beauty and balance of the natural world, for the preciousness of the life that runs through it (including our own), and of the community that sustains both the land and each other, speaks to my heart.

Over the past few years, I have sunk myself into the soil in my back yard, and into the community of neighbors that surrounds it, and it has begun to restore me. My garden is not just a plot of dirt providing vegetables for the salad bowl, it is an act of love, a place of profundity and awe. If you knew about the ecosystem that lives in but one gram of good earth, you would be humbled, literally, to the ground.

Berry's poems are passionate calls to live--deeply, profoundly, fearlessly. To step out of narrow-minded egotism, to secede "[f]rom the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation, [to] secede into care for one another, and for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth."

And so I have made my own nation small enough to walk across. I have named the small corner of the earth I steward Rough Branch. I have declared myself free of ignorant love, and I secede...

From the union of power and money,
from the union of power and secrecy,
from the union of government and art,
from the union of science and money,
from the union of ambition and ignorance,
from the union of genius and war,
from the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
the Mad Farmer walks quietly away.

There is only one of him, but he goes.
He returns to the small country he calls home,
his own nation small enough to walk across.
(From "The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union")
The Mad Farmer challenges us to reconnect, to resurrect our land, our communities, and our souls.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
(From "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front")
All quotes from Wendell Berry.