Monday, January 2, 2012
Wounded Writing Warrior
You'd think with my life of stunning athleticism, grace, Xtreme sports (you should see me on a skateboard) and just plain passion for intense physical activity, (sarcasm alert) that I'd be used to getting hurt. Not so.
I'm in Massachusetts today getting ready to teach The Writing Warrior workshop at Kripalu. I fell a couple of days ago on an easy walk around the neighborhood. It was almost 70 degrees, breezy -- all conditions perfect for me going outside (I have a four-degree comfort range....) We were 2/3 of the way done with our couple mile walk when I tripped on uneven pavement.
I sprained this ankle twice before. The first time was in Italy. I fell down a marble staircase with a suitcase, but I did end up with a dapper cane from an Italian pharmacia. I also spent the rest of the trip shouting "Basta!" and swatting at gypsy children who circled me right away once I was the wounded-walking-weak. The second time was two years ago after a yoga class. I tripped in a pothole in the parking lot behind the studio. That was before I was going to New York (a particularly fun city to be in with a busted foot) to teach at Omega.
So, as luck would have it, right before I'm scheduled to go teach in Massachusetts, I do it again. This one's the worst so far. I even had to get the sky cab in the airport to cart me around. I have a medical cane this time, some rank-smelling natural sprain relief cream from my acupuncturist, and about 600 ibuprofen.
One wonderful thing about being injured is the room upgrade Kripalu provided so that I could have a safety bar in the shower. It was almost worth getting hurt. Usually I'm put up in one of the monk-cells with a shared hall bath. That's fine (though I do prefer a Hilton), but I could just see myself tripping and slipping in the dark once again in a hall bathroom at 3 am where no one can hear you scream. (I know -you're thinking, but Laraine, you're so graceful. So fluid in your movements. Your very footsteps are a ballet...a waltz with the earth.)
This room has its own bathroom (I'd do the happy dance if I could) and it looks out at this view of the lake and the Berkshires:
Of course, it's winter now, but there's no snow on the ground, believe it or not, and its sunny and warm (relatively speaking).
So I'm now in my room with its very own bathroom with my foot elevated staring at the bruises. I will spare you pictures, but I am finding them fascinating. I hardly get hurt so I don't really know what bruises do. The color scheme is quite amazing. I'm trying to figure out ways to apply this to the workshop, since now I won't be demonstrating many of the yoga poses. I'll do the shaking practice from a chair or leaning against a wall on one foot, but it'll be a different class than I'd originally planned, which will be OK.
Right now, I'm thinking about the Wounded Writer idea. Where does our writing come from, after all, if not from those wounded, haunted places? When your body is injured, it's impossible not to pay attention to the wounded part. You keep, with every step, remembering you have a foot which touches the ground which propels you forward which does its job without your constant direction. When you can only walk at the pace of a walking meditation, you're forced into the moment. If you forget, your foot pain brings you back. Often in writing, I'll see people (and myself) write a story up to the moment where the real issue occurs. We'll write up to the moment of the first stab of pain. Oh my god - I'm writing that. Oh my god - I didn't know I still felt that. And we'll turn away. We'll spin on our healthy feet and run as fast as possible the other way and start a new book or a new story. When the pain is in the body, it's much more difficult to spin away from it. You've just got to look.
I think perhaps it might be easier, rather than running from what scares us in our work, to learn not to be scared of it. More often than not, the writing of the book helps shift that relationship. Maybe we'll talk about that this week.
No matter. I've got no access to wine, meat or felines. I have all-I-can-eat access to quinoa, barley, oats, millet, (basically pick your grain choice) kale, broccoli, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, tofu, nuts, bread, fruit, teas, milk, juice, and, of course, an injured foot. Who knows what stories we'll write from this place?
Happy New Year!