Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nga ra o mua

I have just learnt the Maori phrase for the past. (Thank you jb.) It is nga ra o mua. Translated, it means 'what is in front'. I'll say it again... (it messes deliciously with my brain...) the past is in front of me. Of course I get the logic. My left brain can make sense of it. The past is known, has been seen and can be described, so it lies in front. The future (unseen, unknown) is in the dark, and so lies behind. But while I 'get it' in one small corner, the notion tips me over, unseats me. I think the potency is not only that it challenges my own deeply held (culturally forged) assumption that I'm facing and stepping forward into my future; I'm firing up on it also, because in my inner room not governed by logic, this front word mua says something true about what I've been experiencing.

Perhaps it's a feature of being a particular age - but I notice that my past is rising to meet to me at unexpected junctures. Suddenly I'm connecting with a memory. The sounds, the smells, the feelings take on a shape that asks again for a place in me. Marylinn's recent blog spoke of something similar in her experience. In her post she talks about russian dolls as a way to make sense of those layers of life lived. I love this notion of nested selves - and wonder if one of the 'tasks' of this part of our lived life is about learning to embrace each part that's out of kilter - any doll that's needing renestling.

As part of my training, I remember being taken through a visualisation exercise. As group members, we were invited in our own minds to recall ourselves as a child at a particular age; to picture all that I could of me (it was surprisingly not very difficult) - the hair clip, the ankle length white sox, the buckled shiny shoes, the blue and white waisted frock with its lace trimmed collar... Then our trainer asked us take ourselves as adults into the imaginative frame, to draw the child to ourselves in any way that felt appropriate, and to speak a message from our older self - the one who has lived much of this child's future. It was a powerful, and clearly memorable experience for me and for the others with me. Now as I remember it in light of the theme I'm with today, I start to wonder about the bigger babushka that lies ahead (or behind) in my future. What would her words to me be? They're my words; perhaps I'm getting a sense of them already. I'm listening, Pam.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sharing the load

There's a new move afoot in me. Not visible to the naked eye, but about to be made public(ish) here on my blog. Something has nudged me out of my old moorings, and I'm having an interesting time, playing with new ways to inhabit my own skin. My relationship with my body has always been an on-again off-again affair. Tight as a glove (or a slim pink pump) in my early years when - to the amazement of my family - I even skipped home at seven years old with a silver ballet cup in hand. A few years later I was walking on my hands at will, leaping backward on beams and performing all manner of brave or foolhardy bodily contortions.

After that, well, the body and the being took up a more ambivalent relationship, falling in and out of sync. I'd always held fast to the fantasy that deep down in me there was a wellspring of grace, like a smooth liquid mineral store, just waiting to be released, with the right, um, something. But mostly any flow between me and matter was something that got captured into poems or songs, while the body simply bumbled along. I've had a few goes at connecting us up. There was a period when I greeted all my corporeal bits in a meditative act of gratitude before going to sleep. It was a good thing to do, but for whatever reason, wound down, as other good things begun, have been wont to do. It seems in the end it was a conversation that took place from inside my own head. (I'm reminded of a funny quote from Ken Robinson's tedtalk where he talks about academics who use their bodies to take their heads to meetings...)

New paragraph for the new venture - I'm discovering the focus is starting to shift. I'm not sure what the prompt is, but somehow the conscious node has started to move south, and seems perfectly willing to travel about in this body of mine. I'm intrigued to listen out for what parts of my body might be saying. Some parts are bemused; some are humming; others are silent (where did the voice of my shoulders get to?) There's a a realisation, as I head for 60, that this whole organism of mine/me truly is a temporary garment, and it behooves me to get to know it, from the inside out. It's actually quite a relief.