I have a phrase from T.S. Eliot’s The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock tattooed on my right side. It buttresses up against the meat of my breast and wanders over and between my ribs in rows of purple blue ink. Those who know me, know why I wear this homage to romanticism and symbolism on my body…They also know that I was torn in a panicked cat sort of way between honoring Eliot, Ondaatje…or E.E. Cummings. I decided on Eliot because he and I have rooted past, twined together during some of the important moments in my life.
Moments that marked me.
You see…I am a reader and a writer but mostly a reader and words have held me in strong arms since my youth. occasionally on cold days like today -I stop to consider how much a mother and father books have been to me:
I cut my teeth on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (thanks mom!), learned the lessons meant for puberty from McMannon and Conway and discovered the meaning of life from…well everyone…seriously every single author I’ve read added to the layer cake of knowingness that makes me who I am. I could go to these people when all else was this unbearable maze of hard. Books are easy to love and understand and bed down with.
Stories has been my most fulfilling and synchronous teachers.
When I was young I read about the washing rites of women in the Far East and the beauty with which they were portrayed moved me beyond words. Since then, I’ve taken my bathing seriously, allowing it to become a form of self worship instead of a mundane act. My ritual has deepened over time. I pay homage to the body and breath that I have been gifted. I recognize the movement of my life along a timeline via the dips and valleys and curves of my body.
Recently I began panchakarma, the practice asks me to oil my body every night to purify…and doing so brings me back to the roots of my washing practices and the beautiful pictures I saw in a book when I was 11 and the learning that has occurred between now and then…because that is that where women were doing…practicing panchakarma.It’s nice to have a name to put with the images that were so affective to my younger self.the place where
Enraptured with the act of being alive.
If you catch me in a coffee house or wandering the aisles of a grocery store looking for ice cream at two in the morning…it doesn’t matter how busy distracted I am…ask me about Neruda or Castaneda about the Wasteland or The English Patient and I will light up and wax romantic for as long as you can bear about how sexy I think each author’s use of language is. About how much each one influenced my life in a very different way. Some people have moments in time laced through with a person or a place…I have books.
Joseph Campbell ever the student of mythology tells us:
“People say what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive”.
Words enrapture me. Sometimes I worry that I’ve read too much and traveled to little or engaged the world to little…these are both false assumptions based on life lived thus far rather than life experienced on a continuum so I really don’t worry that much because above all I am living. I am experiencing the rapture of being alive and doing so honoring the ability to be constantly born and reborn from the ashes of each day passing and burning anew…
I should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across the floor of silent seas.
Much love and Light –
- Visions and Revisions: On T.S. Eliot (3quarksdaily.com)
- ‘The Fault in our Stars’ by John Green (tobagostars.wordpress.com)
- The Meaning of Life (mystillness.wordpress.com)
- FINGERS flying, futilely (womenoverboard.wordpress.com)