Another visceral reaction, probably not much later in life, came in my tenth grade honors English class, reading Thoreau and Emerson and William Cullen Bryant and generally learning about transcendentalism. There was a certain beauty to that interconnectivity and inspiration from nature that speaks to me still today. There were writings of such beauty and power that I, ever the loquacious master of my mother tongue and eager student of other languages and modes of expression, was speechless. Beyond being moved, I was faced with a beauty and unity so much bigger than myself that I could not fully conceive of it in any single moment, but simply face it with a bright and wondrous awestruck look in my eyes and on my face for as long as I could hold the idea and the feeling in my consciousness.
Transcendence is something I still pursue. I don't perceive Taoism, acting, or particle physics to be distinct fields of study. To me, Taoism and art are ways of coming to stillness and allowing ourselves to be the vessels through which manifest beauty is expressed. Physics, chemistry, and biology are just the operating rules for the construct in which these actions are playing out. To me, the great joy is when I see a poetic principle by another name in science, or when a spiritual principal may be fully understood as something that facilitates my acting.
That brings me to today's reading. "The Psoas Book," by Liz Koch. "The Essential Reiki Teaching Manual" by Diane Stein. "We are What We Eat" by Donna Gabaccia. The final book is one I am reading for my first summer class, "A Gendered History of Food." I am excited to be taking this class for so may reasons. The professor, Ann Marie Nicolosi, Ph.D., is one of the best I've ever had the privilege of being taught by, and her African American Women's History course last semester was transformative. Additionally, this course brings me back full circle to where I was about five years ago, as I made the journey from omnivore to pesciatarian to vegan. In the semesters following this dietary transformation, fueled first by health concerns and a newfound level of self care and bodily self respect, but then by a concern for animals, the environment, and worker's rights, I found feminist critical analysis as a unifying set of political and theoretical beliefs for activism an life. I see this course as a way to renew and refocus these interests and find new insights in the interconnectivity of the way we eat with every other aspect of our lives, and to make eating decisions based on these connections.
The reiki book and The Psoas Book are both for the purposes of self healing and self care and, based on my love of sharing information that I find beneficial and interesting, ostensibly for healing others as well. I will admit that my life path is intimidating to me some days. I simply remind myself that, with creative joy and abundant support, I will find the way to wear the many hats of healer, teacher, artist, actor, writer, educator, father, and husband (eventually) with grace and aplomb. That concern aside, I am again drawn to the interconnections of multiple systems of understanding life and experience. Liz Koch is clearly open to holistic healing and energy work, and yet her book also communicates beautifully with detailed explanations of anatomy and physiology.
While I am still left to make some connections for myself between, say, her explanation of muscular rigidity and a voluntary control of autonomic physiological responses to fear and the unbelievable knot in the muscles behind my heart (or heart chakra), she does offer a certain amount of direct explanations of physical, spiritual, and emotional interconnectivity. I must also add that it gives me great that this is a multi directional system; that a massage can benefit me spiritually is very joyful because it involves no effort on my part other than showing up and sometimes it's just so nice for things to be easy. And this is coming from a masochistic Virgo, to give some perspective to the personal significane to that statement.
Today, I am enjoying the breeze and my dog lying in bed with me while I blog, my books, and the beautiful ways that all of these separate texts communicate on the same idea, which is to be still and take care of myself and others. May your Sunday be so beautiful.