I started to title this Sunday Morning Muse with Mixed Emotions. But that seemed too trite and true. The vegetable soup is tangible and real, I'm having my second bowl while writing this. I returned from a week-long trip to Costa Rica on Tuesday morning with swollen ankles and sorry that I had missed my Sunday date with this blog and my morning yoga. These are two endeavors that I've recently reestablished but that haven't yet become normative, so I feared just letting go, it's so easy to do, as you know.
CR is the remarkable place they say it is, very welcoming of tourists and you will see monkeys and the birds are amazing. The trip was to celebrate my niece's wedding, which was a wonderful event in the lives of all 90 or so people who gathered there. A remarkable witnessing event. A blessing. I read a poem by Tennyson during the ceremony and I danced at the reception, something I had thought I'd forgotten how to do. Young people drink too much, and saying this says what? That I'm getting old?
I didn't take enough books to read and wasn't able to do any writing although I mentally tore apart and reconstructed and then tore apart again my current manuscript, Slight Faith. I brought copies of my books and gave one to a 16 year old cousin, who appreciated it, but as you know, most folks aren't very interested in poetry. I only mention his age with great esteem, to say that maybe there is hope. I speak only of my family of course, but maybe there actually is hope. Is there?
I read The Zone of Interest (Martin Amis) and Be Near Me (Andrew O'Hagan), both hardly celebratory, both worth reading. Today I am reading Redeployment (Phil Klay) which should be required reading, particularly for women. Or maybe it's just me that suffers such enormous perplexity about men, combined with such a strong desire to understand them. Yes, them.
It's more clear to me why I need (and want) to reestablish a yoga practice, it makes my body feel stronger and has an overall focusing effect; it is less clear why I want to commit to writing a blog. I suppose my need here is to create a repository of mixed emotions.
You're going to have pain. You're also going to die some day, but let's stick with pain for now. I am enmeshed with pain --others' pain-- in my job . I'm a nurse practitioner; my job is ministering to chronic pain patients. I say ministering instead of treating because I've learned that there is not much I can do for my patients who want to live without pain, I have no magic wand, no silver bullet, no way to change the fact of chronic pain. So I listen. I acknowledge. I empathize. I absorb. I tell jokes. I prescribe narcotics (which is another whole discussion). And I make suggestions.
Such as in what to do during a pain flare. I'm having one right now. A flare is when your daily chronic issues recede into background and a deep intense crick or blast or fire or knife blade or other colorful description of an insistent pain makes itself known. There was no injury, maybe you slept wrong, or sat at the computer too long, maybe you chopped wood or vacuumed the living-room because it needed doing and there was no one else to do it. A flare is only an emergency if you make it so. It will resolve. The body is resilient and has marvelous power to heal. No, you don't need a doctor or a trip to the emergency room, or an MRI after 3 days of a "pinched nerve" in your neck or an intransigent backache.
Today it's my right shoulder. Even with an ice pack tucked into my bra strap, I really shouldn't be typing this.
So here is the game plan. Ice. Rest. Gentle stretching. Repeat. Take some ibuprofen. Rub in some arnica or icy-hot.
And know, it will get better. The body is both horrifying and wondrous . Not always in equal measure.
My response to reading his journals became a series of poems, first published by Bill Slaughter in 2001 as "The Conversion of Saint John" at Mudlark. These initial poems, layered with poems written 10 years later, became my first chapbook, "what we owe each other" published in 2013 by O.P.W. Fredericks at The Lives You Touch Publications.
I have recently begun the burdensome process of going through my own journals and notebooks with the goal of gleaning the bits that perhaps I can turn into poetry, and then destroying them. I've already tossed a few. I've been asked to hold on to them several times by well-meaning friends. But I don't want to alter someone's life so dramatically as mine was by listening in on private and often very painful thoughts. Like Jon, I didn't go to my journal when all was well with my world, I wrote as a way to process pain, and more specifically, to remind myself that I did want to live for a while. But honestly, I don't recommend allowing your journals to survive you. Of course that is for you to decide.