Sunday Morning ~ Moving Through Water
Mlirira kwao adamka ndi madzi. ~ The one who wanted to go home at all cost was swept away by the water.
~ Chewa proverb
March 27, 2022
I’m at a retreat, the first indoor, in-person event I’ve attended since the pandemic began. It feels momentous. Retreat. I’ve been thinking about the word. To pull back, go home. Withdraw. As if we haven’t already been doing that for a long time. It seems the opposite of what we planned: to come together again. We planned a healing retreat, the idea being to mend our hearts, address our trauma, support each other. Caretakers often don’t care for themselves and it takes a toll. There has been so much loss. We acknowledged that.
I decided to start the weekend with a massage, something I rarely treat myself to, but I needed some alignment and thought I’d start off supporting local caregivers with an hour of being cared for myself. This was the weekend theme after all. The massage therapist asked me to fill out a health history form with the usual questions about whether I had any injuries, diseases, complaints, etc. then I came to a surprise question I had to think long about. It asked me to describe myself as water. I stopped writing. In terms of water what was I doing? I’m not a water person generally. I am not a strong swimmer, don’t like to be in cold water, and am not drawn to boats. If I have any fears, they have to do with water. Yet, I obviously value the life sustaining substance in all sorts of ways. I know we take our water for granted. I took stock of my anxieties and complaints and thought of waterfalls (glorious to look at but deadly to encounter), rapids, crushing waves, or eddies. Do I feel like these? Dangerous and powerful? Not really. I’ve felt stuck not whooshing. I envisioned a stagnant pool with scum forming over the top. I quickly erased that vision as intolerable. But now that I write this, it doesn’t sound so bad. I could have eliminated the scum and thought about water bugs and croaking frogs, a more positive image in my mind. Something alive with better energy than scum. Though, I supposed I could dive deep into the wonders of algae. I was overthinking it and after a four hour drive, wanted to get on to that table, face down, letting someone take the stress out of my muscles. I impulsively wrote “whirlpool” and though that didn’t seem right either, but I was writing in pen and hate to cross things out. So I left it, thinking that’s not accurate as I’m really not feeling as powerful as a whirlpool. It was more the being caught up in one spot I was going for, the rock in there still lodged and trying to escape. Swirling water. I left the word on the page and moved on, wondering how it might affect my treatment or if the water question was for her own interest and something she’d go back and muse over later. I felt unbalanced and wanted her to get things straightened out. As I waited for her to call me, I wondered what actually caused whirlpools and made a mental note to look it up later. Whether it was my longing for human touch or the water question I don’t know, but it was the best massage I’ve ever had and I hovered in a blissful state between consciousness and unconsciousness for over an hour while the world disappeared.
Whirlpools, I learned, are formed when currents flowing in different directions come together. Hmm, interesting. Lots to think about there. I wish I had looked this up before the healing circle and could have shared some great metaphor and seemed very smart and intuitive. Oh well. I read on…”the water from opposing currents start to swirl around each other.” (Oh wow. So many references. I wonder if she thought about this before my massage? How well did she know water and whirlpools? I didn’t ask her.) “If the currents are very strong they can spiral downward, forming a vortex. If strong enough, this vortex can pull things down into it.” (I’ll just leave that right there.)
I started wondering how strong I felt. Not very at the moment. Actually rather weak, or at least weaker than is comfortable for me. But I’m getting older and may need to rethink my notion of strong. It’s the changing of the season and this time of year does not energize me. I remind myself of that. There is change and flux and conflict. My instinct to fix it all, manage things, run around saving vulnerable plants, people, old socks–– all equally, confounds me at this time of year. When does a whirlpool stop spinning and start to move again? It’s not, I learned, when the rock gets dislodged. It’s when the tide changes, when the currents shift, the waters recede. It’s all much bigger than me or us. Everything in a cycle. If we just wait, the whirlpool becomes less dangerous; it’s easier to move through; the dam does not need to break; we just need to wait until it is safe to go home.
Love to all,