12 November 2008

Sitting Still

I find myself thinking now about how much time I have to spend lying down or sitting still.

Hard life, right? But that reclining and motionlessness is not as simple as it seems. You see, when I'm lying down, I'm not in my own bed, with my own pillow and flat on my back. Instead, I'm lying with my head bent backward so the electrologists can get the hairs on my lower chin and below my jawline. And, when they work on my left side, I have to turn onto my right, which is not a comfortable positon.

As for sitting: Whenever I get my nails done, I have to sit with my hands outstretched. That means I can't even read or write--or do anything else, really. At least when I'm getting my hair done, I can read at least for some of the time. But I usually talk with Anna, who does my hair these days, or whoever else happens to be in the beauty salon when I'm there. And, with mirrors all around me, it's hard not to look, especially when the point of the procedure is to look better.

And I spend more time than I used to spend in doctors' and other health professionals' offices. Some of that, of course, has to do with getting older: I need more care and am more willing to get the care I need, or even what may simply help me to feel or function better.

I also acknowledge my vulnerability--physical and emotional--more than I used to. Again, some of that has to do with age. But I think my gender transition is equally relevant: As a woman, those vulnerablities, which are sometimes a source of strength, are also more noticeable. Perhaps even more to the point is that because I can live as a woman, I am more willing to take care of myself. I care more about myself; I care more about being alive; I simply care more, I think.

It's ironic that when I was in "better" shape, I was really beating and exhausting my body rather than caring for it. I wouldn't mind being as thin as I was when I was taking those bike trips in France or during those first couple of years that I knew Tammy. But, of course, I wouldn't want to have the inner torment I had in those days. And I'm not going to take a trip, or do anything else, to run away. A little escape is not a bad thing, but when whatever you use for your escape becomes what you live for, that's practically a recipe for spiritual death.

Speaking of spiritual...Zen and some other traditions recognize the importance of being still. Of course, that's not the same as doing nothing. But doing something simply for the sake of doing something, or to escape whatever you would have to face by being still, is not spiritually healthy.

Not to say that getting one's nails done is a spiritual experience. But if it helps my body to reflect what's in my mind and spirit--as everything I've done in this transition has, and I expect the operation will--then sitting still or being still is probably a good thing.

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