You know when you decide you’re going to do something, and then the Universe just seems to line up so that you’ll do it? That happened recently with dance. I finally admitted that I will never exercise, but what I will do is dance.
Shortly after that, a Qoya class started nearby, and a friend committed to going with me. Qoya, which is a combination of self-exploration and movement, is perfect for me. I get to sweat and feel at the same time, only feeling is the focus. The sweating just happens.
So, we’re driving home from Qoya last night, and my friend tells me that she’d been feeling great in her body (being at home in your body was the theme of the class), until the end when it came time to stretch and she found that her stomach was actually in the way of her stretching and bending the way she wanted to.
“Well,” I admitted, “I have this second stomach that I’m really not happy with.” The second stomach is the one that turned me from an hourglass to an apple in one short season, I think while I was moving my mother to assisted living.
A thoughtful moment passed. Finally, my friend said, “Can my second stomach and your second stomach be friends?”
“That’ll be good,” I said, “because my second stomach needs a break from how mean I am to it all the time.”
“A second stomach play date!” she exclaimed.
We guffawed, and she slapped the steering wheel.
“Maybe they can do a sleepover!”
“Snacks will be easy.”
“Wait till it finds out it wasn’t planned – or wanted.”
I’d spent the last two days pruning an apple tree on our land by the lake. Why there’s an apple tree there, and why it’s still alive are two things among many we can’t really know about that tree. All we know is, it occasionally bears an apple or two, and the porcupines have taken terrible liberties with it. This year, when winter melted away, my partner said, with something like disappointment, “That apple tree made it through another winter!” I looked over at it and saw a tangled mass of sticks and broken branches growing straight up and all crazy, and then, at the tips of the longest branches, new growth and buds.
In that moment I knew I’d help that tree reclaim its bodily sovereignty. It wouldn’t be like to me to enjoy sawing and snipping at living things, but I found it grounding and comforting to be twisting myself around the ancient branches, listening for its essential shape. Ultimately, I hope it feels more like itself. I’m anticipating with pride for both of us the remarks of summer visitors when they notice it. “I never knew there was an apple tree there!”
Earth Day, 2016. The only thing I can think to do is love her. I do this by dancing – me, my friend, and our second stomachs – and by pruning an apple tree. I didn’t realize until the dance class how being at home in my body and pruning the tree would feel like the same thing. In the class, we were asked to set an intention. I wanted to just trust that being me was enough. But even trusting felt too effortful for what I was yearning for, so my intention was to just be me. No thought, no effort, just presence. Nothing to strive for, nowhere to get to. Just being.
And that seems to be a contradiction to cutting away branches of an apple tree, but every moment calls for a different response. When my body said, “Dance!” I danced. When the tree said, “Free me!” I went looking for the shears.
When I’m present and when I’m not looking for something to complete me, I can respond in any way that’s authentic, and I can trust my responses, because I have no ulterior motive. I can walk away from anything, go out to Rumi’s field, and just be. Finger to the sky. Ear to the ground. Heart open.
I never knew to hope and wish and pray for the very things I find to be a blessing today. I just listened and went with what felt light and found myself dancing, then I found myself sharing, then I found myself laughing the kind of laugh you need to come up for air and wipe your eyes from, and then I heard the Earth calling me, and I went outside and crouched down on the lawn and placed my hand on the cold dirt and took in the new sprouts, the thawing red worms making their way to the surface, the chorus of starlings in the top of the maple tree.
And that is a way to live that’s like dancing, all the time.
Till next time, Enjoy the dance!
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by Phyllis Capanna © 2016 joyreport
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