I want to be honest here. I haven’t moved in almost a year. Last June I had an operation and prior to my surgery I swam or walked almost daily. Then the surgery and a myriad of other circumstances. My response was to eat mindlessly and to not move. I did not literally sit for a year, but I didn’t include movement in my lifestyle. I didn’t walk. I didn’t swim. I didn’t do the movement that gets my temperature up and my endorphins going. I get why I chose to do what I did. And I am not guilting myself because of the choice. It is what I chose. Today I am at a point where I am beginning to choose differently. I am waking up from a long year’s sleep.
Of all of the domains for living (emotional, physical, mental and spiritual), I am the least familiar and comfortable in the physical domain. I connect to others and to my feelings. I use my mind to create and to think through complicated scenarios. I consider myself spiritual (although not particularly religious) and find comfort and inspiration in connecting with nature and a God who is greater than I. Movement, exercise, feeling grounded in my body—well, all are areas that are less than comfortable. That part of me is the part that always is the first to go to sleep and the last to wake up.
Yet, there is this gnawing. Is it a stretch and yawning out of sleep? A beginning movement from rem sleep to awake? I have felt it occasionally in this last year’s sleep, a distant pressing, almost like a hunger pang, hungering for a deeper touch with my body. I mostly ignore it and sometimes it catches me by surprise, asking me to pay attention. This body connection happens for me with movement. I know it. And it is so easy to ignore.
This gnawing pressed stronger as I read a recent Facebook post of Anne Lamott’s. She was turning 61 in two days when she posted her writing. (I am currently 61, too.) She wrote, in list form (14 things) that are the total of all she knows. Number 13 hit me hard:
13. Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don't go by what I say.
The gnawing is calling me yawning, stretching out of hibernation. I want to live a good life. And I have but one life. My body houses all of the domains of which I find most fulfillment. It houses the center where I make emotional connections. It houses my mind and my creativity. It houses my spirit. I let it go to sleep and want it to wake up. I want to move my body and honor it with the care it deserves. I want it to join the rest of me—fully alive and awake.
I live in Rochester, NY. It is a cold country (another excuse for hibernation, I might add). We are in late April and daffodils are just beginning to bloom. Today’s high is 54. And on April 1 my pool opened. There are the hearty among us who relish swimming in the cold. I have been yawning and thinking about #13—not one among the hearty.
Until today. To begin the waking up, I donned my suit today and began my swimming regime. The water warm and the air cool enveloped me as I waded into the wet, my body woken by a light breeze and chlorinated water. I began slowly. Length after length of breaststroke, pulling the water to push me forward…again and again and again. The blue of sky and water buoyed me, cheering me as I touched the pool perimeter to turn around and begin my next length.
Energy begets energy, so they say. I have to say, only 10 lengths later, I feel energized. I also feel a bit sore. The effect of no movement interacting with movement. I am so happy that today I chose to move. I want to build up and get better at this. And I want to be more in my physical domain. I am excited. I am stretching my way out of hibernation.
Is the gnawing turning into a yearning? I am not sure. But today, I made a movement toward movement. Followed, yet again, by choice for movement tomorrow. One stroke at a time. I don’t want to go back to sleep. Today I came out of hibernation and I want to stay awake.