As I began working as a coach, I fell deeply and profoundly in love all over again. Not in a way that should concern anyone in my family (or my partner). This is a love affair with humanity – a glistening-joy-and-respect kind of love for each unique being that I encountered along the way. It has made me appreciate in fresh, new ways just about everyone I encounter, from the clerk in a store to the person huddling against the cold wind beside me at a stop light. I discovered that despite what I might see on the surface, each individual has a deep well of experience, history, wounds and joys. Each has run their own metaphoric marathons and endured hardships. Each has their own version of joy and happiness. Each person inspires and amazes me, every time I get to be with them.
Recently, this love affair has taken on a new twist. I’m soooo good at loving others, and caring for them. The lesson of self-care (ugh I don’t even like that phrase) has been a hard-learned one for me. I have learned through blunt-force experiences (two concussions in one year) that you do indeed have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first and that if you’re not in good shape yourself, it’s damned near impossible to support others. So something happened a few weeks ago that has swung the spotlight that I so easily put on others over onto my own miraculous being. (And I’m not being boastful here. Stick with me and I’m hoping you’ll get what I’m saying and maybe even show the miracle of you a little love by the end.)
A couple of weeks ago I was felled by a magnificent flu. I had spent the afternoon at a National Theatre Company live-cast of Jane Eyre. The show was spare and complex and exciting to watch. But after, I went from feeling energized by the show to feeling pretty crummy by the time I got home. At home, I made a little dinner, watched an episode of something and then became aware of just how unhappy my stomach was. I moved around trying to get comfortable, walked the dog, and then… Oh dear. Let’s just say that I threw up like a champion (and I NEVER throw up).
Fast forward to the next morning when all that was left was the aches. We’ve all had them. But this time was different. Lying on the couch, I was mesmerized by the sensation of each joint pulsing with aliveness. Instead of bracing against the aches, I gave into the experience of feeling each cell’s energy coursing throughout my body.
I could feel my entire body at once. Normally we notice our bodies in a negative-billing kind of way…. when something hurts, we pay attention to that part. When everything’s ok, we tend to ignore it all. Here I was with a real-time live-stream of the magnificent performance that is actually always going on inside. As each joint was illuminated like the footlights on a stage, I was aware of the wondrous immune system working its magic fighting the infection. I had the sense of the incredible intelligence that had been mobilized to help me recover. I’m sure I moaned a few times during the day, but mostly I lay there in awe of the miracle of my body, my being.
The legacy of that spiritual and embodied experience has been an openness to the sensations and experience of my own body, which has resulted in a sweet gentleness I feel towards my self. And that love of humanity I wrote about earlier has morphed into a sacred respect for not just for who we are but also for what we are. We are intrinsically inter-woven beings and the experience of the pulsing life-force I felt runs not just in me but in everything (the people, the animals, the plants, the air, the EVERYTHING). And how can you not fall in love with that?
(Photo taken in Tofino, BC, Feburary 2016)