the soft animal of my body.

it is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.~mary oliver
i’ve been working with a leadership coach for the past few months. recently, i had a big a-ha moment, and it has to do with anger. my personality type does not do well with anger–being angry, having someone be angry with me, being around anger, and so on. i’ve always know that anger can make me feel physically ill. even when mike’s voice has a tinge of anger, i get stomach vibrations. 

ok, so what? 

my coach pointed out that when i should, rightfully, be angry, i tend to brush it off, put it away, never visit it again.
my homework:  get in touch with my anger.

this explains a lot to me, in how i’m processing the horrible state of the world. in how i dealt with every single flight the past 3 months being delayed, cancelled, or with lost bags. in how i vomited for 5 hours straight one night last week with some strange vertigo-inducing virus. in how i spent the last week searching every nook and cranny for a lost library book, only to have it turn up right in front of my face. in buying a hard-boiled egg at a restaurant to crack it open and have the un-boiled egg run out. oh, and in how i’m handling my mastectomy on tuesday. big and small and big.

i know i SHOULD be angry. i just don’t know how. do i scream? do i punch something? do i cry? do i pop bubble wrap? 

i spent the past week with friends at a wedding, and in my hometown with my family. it was so special to see so many loved ones in such a short time (and being in staunton for tour de donut and ribfest made for a few extra tasty lbs). but, in the process of trying to get in touch with my anger, i was instead feeling…apathetic, even a bit numb, and, ultimately, sad. 

i did some digging around and found this quote by liza palmer:  anger is just sad’s bodyguard.

maybe that’s it. maybe i’ve lost all my armor, my defense mechanisms, my immunity. all my body guards. and all that’s left is sadness. without anger, sadness is there, exposed. 

mike and i went to chemo with my dad this week, and we visited with their favorite nurse, sally. she’s had major health issues of her own and we sat, commiserating. sally spouted off one of my favorite mary oliver quotes–tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? and it prompted me to dig into my mary oliver files. re-reading her writing made me shed some tears. maybe tears of anger, maybe of sadness, maybe of love and life. it’s all the same, though, isn’t it?

so, one last mary oliver poem, wild geese, to set us off. it also happened to be one of my friend erin’s favorites.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your kneesfor a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.Meanwhile the world goes on.Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rainare moving across the landscapes,over the prairies and the deep trees,the mountains and the rivers.Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,are heading home again.Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,the world offers itself to your imagination,calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –over and over announcing your placein the family of things. 

tuesday will be here soon, and then it will be done. the pathology report will be here soon, and then it will be done. sadness and anger and the soft animal of my body.


This entry was posted in The story. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s