Changing my image


It is definitely time for me to update my image.  Probably past time.  But I’m not sure that I can do it.

Let me start by telling you a story.

About 15 years ago, when my Nana was in her 80’s, she told me that every morning she would wake up and her first thought would be, “Oh, good. I’m not dead.”  Then she’d get up and walk to the bathroom. On her way there, she would have an image of herself in her mind. An image of her twenty year old self, bright and beautiful.  She’d get to the mirror and have her second thought of the day. “Who the hell is the old lady in my bathroom?”

I’m starting to feel that way.  In my own internal image, I look a lot like this:

You mean, I don't look like this anymore?

You mean, I don’t look like this anymore?

Smooth skin, dark hair, big bright eyes that aren’t all wrapped in wrinkles.  That’s the “me” that lives inside.  I think I need to update her, because sometimes now the shock of the real me is hard to handle.

And I’m not as hale and hearty as I used to be; I don’t want to kill myself by having a heart attack when I look in the mirror to brush my teeth.

The teeth I have left.

I have spent 58 years thinking of myself as strong and healthy, too, and all that seems to be changing.  A good friend once referred to me as “robust” as I bounced back from a tough pregnancy and delivery.

“Robust”.

I like it!

I just don’t match it anymore.  I mean, I’m lucky overall, and I have nothing dire to complain about.  But you get to the point where you have to time your coffee so it doesn’t interfere with your prednisone and your inhaler, and you start to feel…..well, what’s the opposite of “robust”?  You decide to take a nice long walk in the woods, and you realize that you’re going to end up with knee pain and neck pain and back pain, so you choose a short walk and a nice sit down on the deck instead.

So not robust.

I know my allergies will get better, and I know that I live a very active and happy life.  I know I shouldn’t complain, blah, blah, blah.

But I hobble to the mirror, coughing all the way, and I wonder where that bright eyed, easy breathing girl went.

Way past time to update that internal image…….!

Hollow


Cube_(PSF)-1

I am teaching my fifth grade students about volume.  We are learning how to calculate the volume of solid objects, but we are also talking about the concept of volume.

What is “volume”? The kids can explain it to you.  It means how much space something takes up.  How much air or water is displaced and moved out of the way to accommodate the presence of an object.

It can also be used to think about how much material can go inside of something, right? The volume of the container determines how much juice can fit inside of it.

This has all got me to thinking about my own personal volume. How much space in the universe do I occupy? How much air has been displaced by my very presence in this room?

Sometimes it seems like a good use of the universe to have me in it, pushing aside air and water molecules so that I can live and breathe and move.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like such a good use of space.

And I’ve been thinking about how much volume there is inside me. How much space there is to be filled with something.

Most of the time, I feel pretty full.  Full of thoughts and stories and memories and songs.  Full of love and joy and sadness and righteous indignation.  Curiosity and determination and humor. Most of the time there are a bunch of good ideas in there, filling all that space.

Sometimes, though, I wonder where it all went. Sometimes it is clear that I have become hollow, with all that internal energy just drained right out.  Then I am like an empty cube; still taking up space, but serving no useful purpose.

At those times it seems as if I have too much volume.  How will I ever fill it up again?

Two forty, AM


Two forty.

The house is cold.  There is snow outside, coating the trees and the fence.

The world is silent.

My eyes are heavy, and want to close. I turn onto my right side, curl my knees just so to ease the aching in my back.  I slow my breath. I imagine sleep.

The trick, I know, is not to think of sleep, not directly.  If I chase it, it will slip away in a little spurt of alertness, replaced at once by the awareness that I am most certainly not really sleeping.  The trick, I have learned, is to lie in readiness for sleep, to be open to it when it creeps in.

I begin to drift away on an almost dream of summer winds, but then I notice that I have drifted, and sleep runs away again.

A turn to my left side now, adjust the pillow, think of ocean waves.  Relax, let go, just let it come and take me.

I float for a moment, filled with lightness, empty of thought. I see a student, one of my struggling souls. Worry rushes in, pushing out the light.  I crash back to earth with a racing heart.  Minutes drag by as I try and fail to turn my thoughts away from this child, away from the day, away from the TV news that is no doubt a part of his acting out.

My eyes are so heavy.  They want so much to close and rest.  I let the lids fall, but I find that I am still looking out into the cloudy night.  Is there more snow falling now?

I turn onto my right side, hand under my cheek.

I try to let myself drift. I wait for sleep.

Dawn comes.