Savor a New Body
We Are the Way We Move
I feel so odd. THR surgery has brutalized the soft tissue in and around my hip sockets’ joint capsules. During the first stages of healing, pelvic and femur bones fuse to titanium and ceramic implants, meanwhile the soft tissue must scar tightly so the prosthetic joint won’t dislocate. My physical therapy protocol of strengthening without stretching—the latter would be dangerous for me—feels strange. My inner voice repeats and repeats: Bulk muscles around the bones, compact, tough, to guard and brace. At least for now, while deep inside layers are still fragile. Let them knit and bind. Build a barrier wall. A barricade. I draw into a geological centrality, the way gravity makes the Earth’s crust adhere to the iron planetary core. My limbs and head pour toward my spine as planets cleave to the sun.
A friend remarks that it sounds like a fabulous period of consolidation. Maybe so, but I wonder what about consolidation feels unfamiliar. Far below my surface, away from mirrors and selfies, way down in, I have never known this solidity.
I’ve known many embodied experiences. Here are two:
Ballet. Cinched in, poised on a pin, pointing every limb to infinity, pas de chat to the horizon, unbounded by gravity—an Apollonian creature of air and abstraction. Middle Eastern dance. Arms twining in soft, middle distance, spine undulating over sparkling hips, legs sizzling under a skirt—a slither, meander, ramble in unctuous interiority.
Every dance is a world. Each makes me different. What identity blossoms in the psyche?
More than a physical shape and conditioning, more than reflected self-image, the feeling of movements in my flesh is me. I feel my identity inside my muscles and motion. Yes, I have a constant core of self untouched by sensation. I also live in sensorially distinct selves. The sensation of one me is not at all like another, yet I know all my me-s—like wearing a different costumes, yet not skin deep. The shimmy, the lunge, the jete, the whirl. Poems of space. Piercing of time…All the movement I do occupies my cells, spins my neurotransmitters. The inscrutable certainty of me is there too.
I bulk up now, enthused at crafting this warrior protector self because it is novel as well as needed. I’m on the project. Myself to myself opens newly. Standing here, moving here, previously invisible aspects of my world peek through the known folding and unfolding of days. Instead of reaching, chasing after, pursuing, I let things come to me. Maybe because I am metallic, I am magnetic. It is wonderful to savor my body in a new way, exploring a new landscape of being.
My work and writing are sponsored by Dervish Society of America (DSA), a nonprofit 501-C3 organization dedicated to the Path of embodied mysticism. DSA provides opportunities for personal development, exploratory inquiry into embodied spirituality, and community connection through practice, service, and performance. DONATIONS are tax-deductible.