Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Strength Training

"Why are you doing this?" I ask myself as I try to do yet another thing I can't do because I don't have any muscles and I don't know how to let my body parts work together instead of struggling against each other. Or rather, the small insistent voice from somewhere deep inside me asks this. The voice that I can finally hear clearly and consistently, after tuning out the cacophony of the culturally ingrained messages of how I'm supposed to look and act and think and be. Many of those messages are untrue. We are constantly bombarded with messages designed to make us feel fearful and insecure, to manipulate and control our beliefs, actions and especially our money. It takes a concerted effort to unlearn the untruths we've been told and to determine for ourselves how to be a person in the world. The process is messy and confusing and, for me at least, involves a lot of crying in the shower (For me, the shower is the perfect place to release all the feels. The water drowns out and washes away all the puffy, snotty evidence of an ugly cry, while also being warm and relaxing. It feels like a clean slate and a gratitude enhancer - I will never cease to be amazed that I get to have hot running water or ice cold water any time I want).

"Why are you doing this?" I ask myself.
"Because I need to get stronger." I whine in frustration.
"There are different kinds of strength." I reply.

And this is the answer. I know it's the answer, but I don't know how to actualize it. Do I need the kind of strength that comes from lifting heavy things? A little bit, yes. Insomuch as it benefits my health and better allows me to do the things I want to do. But it's not like anyone is ever going to mistake me for The Rock. Visible muscles are not ever going to be my thing. My best muscle is and always has been my stupidly hopeful, wanderlustful, bleeding heart. But I don't know what kind of class you go to in order to gain the other kinds of strength. Like the strength to stand up straight and risk being seen (and possibly being misunderstood or judged or attacked - I wonder if animals think our bipedalism is super weird, like here we are walking around all exposed and in danger of being eviscerated, figuratively and literally). The strength to confidently and compassionately challenge the misinformation and injustices of the world. The strength to forgive and atone for my past mistakes, all the times I starved myself of nourishment, both physical and emotional.

The world can be a very dark place. Sometimes I think fighting it is a Sisyphean task. Every day you push the boulders up the hill and some asshole knocks them back down again. But I have to keep pushing the boulders up the hill, because I have a lot of resources and privileges that allow me to do so, and because not doing so means the boulders might fall and hurt someone. And because maybe all of us pushing together will eventually make a difference.

So I need the strength to be bigger and brighter, to be an unstoppable force of lightness and kindness. The strength to fall into the well of feelings that is the human experience, to swim through them, struggling and learning and growing, and to climb back out of the well a kinder, better person. Over and over. For as long as it takes.

(Last week the well of feelings was deep and dark. It felt like scream crying into the abyss. So George and I canceled most of our plans, felt the feels and watched old Elementary episodes on Hulu while pretending to be detectives. But mostly we ate snacks and cleaned things. Though we did find 90 cents in the couch cushions. First case solved! George is a very good, non-judgmental feelings-feeler friend. Plus he doesn't eat any of the snacks. Alas, he is not very good at coming up with funny detective agency names).

Lyric of the moment: "When everyone you thought you knew deserts your fight, I'll go with you. You're facing down a dark hall, I'll grab my light and go with you. I'll go with you, I'll go with you..." ~Twenty One Pilots "My Blood"