I am not a natural at things that involve physical grace or balance. I practiced shoulder stands almost every day last summer just because I wanted to know what it felt like to hold myself upside down. It feels really good, by the way. Perhaps I was too enthusiastic about my balancing skills the other day when I fell out of a headstand and landed in a crunchy, awkward way. For the last 3 days, I have been icing and heating and whining a moderate amount. It hurts constantly, unless I remain completely still. Walking around like a robot has been annoying, but it did bring up some thoughts on stillness and listening that I’ve been noticing.
I recently found a picture from four summers ago. It was of my sister and I and my dog, hot, sweaty, maybe drunk, definitely giggling, on the porch of my studio apartment in Chicago. We lived together that summer. I feel like I was usually kind of dirty and sandy. I hated my job. I was desperately fighting for the attention of people who didn’t deserve it. I drank more than I could handle. I smoked more cigarettes than I wanted to. I had more than one instance of crying under streetlights with lovers who weren’t ready. I was a lover who wasn’t ready. I was a friend who wasn’t present. When I looked at that picture, I kind of missed how alive I felt then. That photo looked like it was pulsating. The things that matter are still true—I will still always want to be in a sweaty giggle pile on the floor with my sister and my dog. However, I don’t feel more alive when I’m fighting to be seen by people who can’t see me. I don’t feel more alive when I’m drunk and fighting under street lights. I do feel more alive when I feel balance. I had to think about it, because losing that level of energy can honestly feel like a loss of life. Like, oh, I am growing up and therefore life will never been as amazing as it was when I was a bunch of exploding fireworks, feeling everything to the extreme. I would argue that being still and listening more can make you feel just as alive.
I feel like I was fighting myself for the last 18 months or so, kicking and screaming through the transitions that I chose. Lately, I feel like I’m just watching the pieces falling around me. Like little pieces of paper, from some explosion, are blowing around, sunlight shining through. It’s a quiet place. It’s not scary, even though I have no idea what’s coming. I would go so far as to say this part feels like magic. This is just the part where I listen. I can be gentle with myself here, but not because I feel fragile. Slow movements can be a way to take care. These are quiet realizations. I let my head slide under the water in the bathtub and realize that I’ve just let something go. I’m walking up a hill, and there’s a breeze, and I let something go. These are the quietest realizations that I always expected would be more dramatic. They do not make me burst into tears, or scream, or decide I need to pack up my things and move out of the state. Like that summer three years ago, I feel like there’s a lit pack of sparklers in my chest, but it no longer feels like an emergency. Just like, I lit these, and they’re beautiful, and it’s fine. There is nothing to scream about. Nothing is on fire. This is not an emergency. This is grace and balance, and it just slipped in the door when I wasn’t looking.