We Dance

We DanceI have an 8 AM appointment. I’m delighted to be outside, walking, breathing the cool fresh morning air, passing others on their way to work, feeling the muscles in my legs, glad for bare feet and sandals.

Later, in the heat of the day, hiding out in the cool shade of our cave with some time to focus, I read about Family Constellations Theory, and am happy not to fall asleep three pages in, which is what happens when I read before bed. Reminders: accept with gratitude the life our parents gave us; accept the particulars that life and those around us have given us, both the good and the bad. When we do this for ourselves, the pain of others in our constellation is mitigated too. This is very hopeful to me.

I have a conversation with my daughter. I am proud of her, and of her brothers, proud that for all the pain our little constellation has carried, we are busy pursuing joy and compassion and forgiveness.

I tear up fresh butter lettuce, and I mince sweet peppers and cucumbers and shallots and radishes for a crisp cold salad. I top it with mango Stilton cheese, and fry up a couple of eggs to go with it. It’s a nice summer supper. Afterwards, we go climb those green, green river valley hills, me and my husband, and I even manage, for the second time this week, to do it without falling and skinning my knee. (I’m going to credit my new runners; I’d had the old ones for about 15 years, and they tell me that’s too long.)

Overnight, a storm brews, though not outside. In the morning, for reasons that only now in retrospect make any sense, I wake up remembering all the other stuff of my life—the not-happy stuff, the betrayals, the very real challenges currently staring me in the face. And when I say I remember them, I don’t mean they are benign little facts in my brain. I mean I remember them, loudly, as if they are, all of them, happening this very second. Yesterday’s sunny skies are gone.

I make some plans—work is, to my mind, the best medicine for most things. There are a few problems with this however, one being that I am at the moment a tad underemployed.

Still, I keep busy, though I remind myself not to rush, that I sometimes break things or hurt myself when I rush. In the evening, I sit outside and feel the breeze, watch the rain, the hail. It is soothing.

I listen to a CBC podcast, and from Daniel Levitin learn that in most of the world’s languages, the word for music and dance are the same—there was no reason to have two. Listening to music, singing and dancing, mirroring another’s movements and vocal sounds—these activities create empathy and bonding. They produce a cocktail of pleasure chemicals, one of them being Oxytocin, the hormone of love, trust, bonding. The neurons in our brains synchronize to music. And they also synchronize us to each other as human beings in the absence of music, when we walk together, or listen to each other, look at each other. We actually begin to converge physiologically within seconds.  Cooperative work brings about deep neurological changes, a sense of purpose, being connected to a larger whole. We are dancing with each other all the time.

This, I decide, is at least part of the reason for the current storm. My work is mostly too isolating.

The new day dawns gray again, literally now. I carry on with my get-through-the-to-do-list approach. But today, I am also meeting a friend for lunch. On my way, deep in thought on a narrow sidewalk, I notice the big yellow school bus nearby, sort of. It has only partially registered. It makes a tight turn, and swings its very long back end into the pole I am standing right next to, barely missing me.

Minutes later, I splash coffee not quite hot enough to scald me on my hands. Over lunch, I have face-to-face conversation. The clouds burst outside the window, and we share my umbrella as we leave. It really is, as my friend said, a lucky day.







Weekly Photo Callenge: Blue. Or: Not Having an office job to go to

What I love, what I hate about not having an office to go to: a dozen of each. 

I can’t keep office hours right now. I’m working part-time, but it’s editorial assistance work I can log into and do from my kitchen table.

What I love about this arrangement:

1) Deep and calm sleep, and waking when my body wants to, not when the clock says I must.

2) Being able to see the surface of my desk.

3) Flexibility. My days are as busy as I want them to be, and if I want to have an extended morning coffee on the couch by the fire with my iPad, I can. If I want to wear leggings 3000 days in a row, I can. If I want to fit my exercise in before I dress for the day, I don’t have to get up extra early to do so.

4) Never running out of clean socks, t-shirts or towels.

5) Having time for hobby writing.

6) Fifty-cent lunches that include healing organic chicken broth I have time to make myself.

7) Having a yard that looks lived-in, quack-grass and dandelions that are mostly under six inches in height, and not having to fit the home and garden in when I would really rather be relaxing at the end of a long day.

8) Having to-do lists that I might complete this century.

9) Having time to breathe, to take at least three or four Scrabble turns in a day, to read at least one news story, and to read the writing of some amazing bloggers out there. (I’m still working on choosing my favorites for that Kreativ Blogger Award.)

10) Being the only one who never has to miss Book Club.

11) Not having to choose between a lunch break and, say, a hair appointment.

12) Being flexible enough to bend around almost everyone else’s schedule. You want to catch up over lunch but can only make it on Wednesday, week after next, at 11:33, in the far northeast end of town? No problem.

What I hate about this arrangement:

1) Not having any colleagues to exchange the quotidian with.

2) Not having any colleagues to have lunch with.

3) Not having the gratification that comes with professional respect.

4) The income.

5) The isolation and what feels to me at times like desperate, choking loneliness.

6) Not getting a lot of professional gratification or respect. (Have I already mentioned that?)

7) Feeling like, since everyone else in the family has more on their plate than I do, it’s up to me to do the grunt work, all of it.

8) Feeling like the entire world is on speed, and that I alone maintain a normal marathon pace.

9) Feeling like an anachronism, like I belong back in the 50s, like I’m the only one with a clean shower and no life, though my shower isn’t actually even clean.

10) Feeling trivial for posting entirely self-absorbed blog posts such as this one.

11) Being vaguely aware of envy in place of empathy emanating from my friends. I love you all dearly, and it’s a nice arrangement in many ways, and I’m thankful for it. But my experience of the past 18 months and the new fibromyalgia-riddled, energy-reduced, fresh-out-of-estrogen me hasn’t exactly been a picnic either. Don’t underestimate the freedom and pleasures of good health, or the satisfaction and self-esteem and power employment brings.

12) Feeling trivial for playing at hobby photography (though I now prefer to think of it as Miksang, or Contemplative Photography, thanks to Louise over at The Sacred Cove, and for taking part in things like the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. (Blue, this week, which suits the mood I’ve worn for several months now, but which made me think of the colour blue in a photo I took on a lovely vacation we took a number of years ago, and which I have included above, even though it has nothing to do with this post.)