I spent an hour and a half one weekend night at a small studio in Seattle dancing with 19 other women in celebration of our friend Molly’s birthday. Molly brings a bag full of joy to the table every day and though the drive was long and a two year old was weeping piteously in my living room I made it to the evening for Molly’s sake.
Molly makes a mean playlist, and it was so much fun to be in a room full of strangers-in-dance. We all left energized and inspired. It’s always good to hear the words ‘love’ and ‘universe’ and ‘heart’ in the same sentence. That should definitely happen more often.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the life of the body and the life of the mind. The more I venture into digital worlds – of books, of gaming, of scholarly content anyone can access – the more I think about what balances that venture for me. As humans become more entwined with virtual worlds the natural world our bodies live in becomes ever more important. I am supported by living in the woods, by my garden and by the dog and cat who live with us, the birds who come to the feeder. I have built-in soul balm available every day.
Years ago I was at an artist residency at Centrum in Port Townsend, and going to pick up my mail at the office. I took a short cut through the parking lot and slipped on the mossy footing in the shadow of the building, falling forward suddenly, full length on the asphalt. Before the scrapes and bruised places sent their message to my brain, another thing happened: joy. It was as if I woke up to the moment, was returned forcibly to myself in a way that was unexpected, surprising but wholly familiar. Straight out of my childhood, the reminder that I am in my body and that my body has information for me filled me with gladness. Even though the sting of scraped skin and sore bones quickly followed, I was grateful. I think about this moment often. What are the ways I can return to myself this fully? How can I integrate everything I think and feel into this sturdy container?
Dancing is one way, and filling the bird feeder, and forcing a different view of my universe, however limited it might be at any given moment.
I wish I did a better job of skiing and backpacking and testing my body in the natural world. I think my time at the gym, a somewhat virtual experience in and of itself, brings me closer to my body’s center, and the walking I do helps as well. Especially in winter, it’s good to move, to remind, to make one’s own green as the world slumbers in its winter self. And it’s good to feed the birds. They have a lot to teach us.