Expansion and contraction, movement and play
I haven’t really finished with the postcards from my trip but life has kept moving forward even if the car wheels have been moving at a more residential pace. Bay Area life resumed in a snap. Like walking into a different room and shutting a door, the forest and desert and mountain scenes of the past few weeks receding into the rear view.
Still, I’ve been striving to keep my expansive travel spirt in place since our return. Could all that openness to different places I’d arrived at translate to being more open in general? I’d contracted during the pandemic years more than I realized. Travel, wondering what was just around the next bend, stopping at places of interest even if they weren’t on our radar, had reawakened my adventurous spirit. While I’ve been fortunate to dodge Covid itself, I’ve still felt like I was recovering from an illness or a period of grieving a lost loved one. I didn’t know how low I was until I started to feel better.
I’ve been thinking about one can read climate events in tree rings and the geologic record. In a drought year, the size of tree ring may show that it didn’t grow very much at all. Old earthquakes show up in the landscape as folded layers of sediment or tilted, torn, or offset layers of earth. Physical scars record our past bodily injuries but our psyches are a different matter. I can look back at my life now and see how deaths and breakups and layoffs have led me to move or make things in different ways, but I’m only now starting to comprehend how these past few years are marking me — or how I’m marking them — or not. While I’ve kept up a steady pace of recording and performing for some years now, lately I’ve been relatively reticent about booking traditional shows; suddenly it seems I have more unfinished than finished work.
As we came into town, I saw Alameda with fresh eyes. What a sparkly, sunny, beachy place! Karen, a dear writer friend who I met more than 20 years ago in Colorado, stayed at our place while we were away and our home felt airy and lived in when we arrived. We talked nonstop as she packed up and we unpacked and then had a long late lunch at Speisekammer before she took off. The next day, we provided the music for the post-race Estuary Extravaganza party at Encinal Yacht Club, playing on the balcony overlooking the water as sailboats drifted past and Caspian Terns and Brown Pelicans soared overhead. It all felt new and familiar at the same time.
A few days after getting back, my friend Chrissy handed me a soft cover version of The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk, which I’ve been eating up ever since. How PTSD manifests, self-regulation, changing our minds — some of my favorite subjects in general, and which really applies now as we all figure out how to interact with others again. Its no wonder this 2014 title became a best seller amid the pandemic!
“Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” — Bessel van der Kolk
Feeling safe is a tall order given just about everything going on at the moment. Fortunately, a large prescription for this is “movement, play, and joyful engagement.”
I have that book too. I got it when I was still teaching to try to understand many of my students but it has helped me since to understand why I had to leave public education. My body is still keeping the score. I am curious to know about how this book and your yoga training and practice talk to each other.
Thanks for sharing your journey, the physical and the emotional! So much of this resonates.