treasure chests (and bellies too)

20160501_095747.pngyesterday, i learned that the phenomenon of memory being stirred in the body by the senses is not limited to smell. one can be aroused as mysteriously by the touch of the hand -at work on blackened backpacking stoves, 15 degree sleeping bags, and canvas hardware packs- just the same, and the flood of memory surges through the body like a song. the visceral response – bittersweet tears of remembrance – can feel something akin to grief in its potency, even as one is preparing to embark again. the emotional shape of love so close in the body to grief, and joy so very close to fear, they must be bedmates in there, spooning in their sleep.

it made me wonder out loud, as my husband and i climbed into that attic, to undertake that precious unpacking and sorting– in preparation for our departure next week for canoe country. up would rise from my belly the lifting of the canoe over a beaver dam, the sweeping view from atop a granite perch, the close-in one of the fecund boreal forest, the intense intimacy i’d felt with my husband as, in silence and physically exhausted, we lay back to watch the stars turn on one by one.  yesterday, as those waves rolled, i’d say to him, ‘uh oh, here comes another’ and i’d be weeping, and laughing at myself all at once.

the body is such a storehouse. i know what they say about living in the present and all, but i don’t know that i want to give that treasure away. perhaps i am attached, after all, each memory clinging to some hidden cell within me. here comes a glob of flesh, my belly churning; there comes an electrically charged bundle, my heart swelling. we are indeed phenomenal beings.

now i realize, as i did even when i was watching it happen, that there was quite a bit of attachment being revealed in that reveling. the sensation of grief gave that away quite compellingly. fear was there too, closely attached. all of those ‘what if’s’ mixed in with fierce gratitude for ‘what was’ and my mind spun ahead to that mortal eventuality, of course.  all of my longing, so carefully bundled up lately to keep from spilling, flew free with those tears, like those days when my long-lost orgasms erupted into equally violent sobs.

mocking me? nay, enlivening me.

a mind can quiet the body, can watch it from a safe distance, denying its treasure, or it can learn to attend, like two lovers, lying in bed.  what we too often miss, i think, is this possibility- that the body can also quiet the mind, as it swings wildly into its stories and judgments that bring suffering, the body can soothe, saying ‘hush’, right here, right now, this feeling, this blessing, this joy and this grief, this fierce tenderness. be here. with me. now.

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