These Tendons Tell the Truth

The universe has a way of proving a point when you least want to hear it. Whether or not you believe that events occur in a meaningful order, everyone has to decide how they will respond to outside forces we have no control over.

Just as I was gearing up to launch projects with an enthusiasm I haven’t felt in years, I injured the two body parts I need most to actualize my goals. In the photo above I have captured my worn, bruised (the effect of cupping), muscle-strained hands.

I’ve been staring at these bruises for six weeks now. Despite the acupuncture and physical therapy, my recovery has been painstakingly slow. My working hours have been further reduced to limit usage of computer peripherals, and I’m strongly encouraged to be less handy in general. I continue to use dictation technology to write most of my blog.

My phalanges and carpi are rebelling against the 8-hour work day. And I’m finally listening.

My hands do so much for me. I use them to bathe and groom myself, prepare food, earn my living, express my artistic self, and communicate. It’s a thankless job, and now it feels silly to not be able to take care of myself on a daily basis. It feels absurd that I overexerted my hands.

Taking a step back when I was ready to jump forward has been really challenging. During this period of healing there are many activities I have had to put the brakes on. Cooking, pole dancing, and pursuing my business projects have been the hardest to forgo. At first I thought I would explode with uncontainable creative energy. But the reality that I have two to six more months to fully heal has forced me to rethink everything.

I am a stubborn person. I like to do things my way, and I like to be independent. I didn’t pack my bags and move to Japan (twice) all on my own without a fierce self-reliance. But I can’t get through my everyday life right now without my loved ones to take care of me. It’s been an important exercise for me to loosen my firm grip on every facet of my life.

(Because I can’t help my need to organize my closet and underwear drawer Marie Kondo style. It makes me feel more relaxed.)

I can’t say that I’ve ever truly loved my hands. They are discolored with vitiligo and somehow manage to always look awkward in photos. For the love of god, I cannot figure out how to give myself a half decent manicure. I am tough on my wrists when I know I should ask someone to help me with something too heavy, too tight to open. I muscle through documents and spreadsheets when I know I should take a break at the point my tendons start talking to me.

My cultural conditioning hasn’t made it easy to consider alternatives to overexertion. Somehow, overexertion to the point of injury is allowed, and somehow we’re all expected to make it work even if “x” job isn’t the right fit.

The Unwinding

I am being immersed into the feminine.

Unable to carry out my constant stream of ideas, I am forced into a state of passivity and receptivity.

Even though I am frustrated by the limitations of my mandated disability leave, I also see this as an incredible opportunity. I am learning a lot about myself. I am reconnecting with nature by going on long walks to the rocky cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. I am catching up on sleep. I am daydreaming, a trademark of the Highly Sensitive Person. I’m relying upon others–my friends, my beloved sweetheart, and my colleagues–to step in.

I am reflecting on what environment I will thrive in best in my future profession.

I am realizing what is most important from moment to moment. 

I am on the outside, watching others frantically running in circles because they’re 10-feet deep in to-do lists with blinders on unable to see the bigger picture. That is often me. So many times I’ve caught myself spinning my wheels for the sake of stressing over trivial matters because I was stuck in a loop that I didn’t know how to get out of.

“Femininity, biologically and psychically, is by nature receptive, and until women learn what active receptivity is and how crucial it is in creative work and in relationship, they belittle their own womanhood.”

The Pregnant Virgin: A Psychological Transformation, Marion Woodman

Active receptivity.

What does it mean to be receptive? It’s “the quality of being willing to listen to or to accept new ideas or suggestions,” according to Oxford Learner Dictionaries.

Because I am programmed by my culture and society to feel worthless unless I am constantly making use of myself, it feels physically difficult to enter a state of receptivity. I naturally hold myself in a tense position, muscles flexed. It’s as if I need to be perpetually prepared to protect myself from outside threats both perceived and actual–whether that threat is a work project with a deadline of yesterday or a sudden disaster that depletes my insufficient savings.

To enter a state of mental or spiritual receptivity, I must physically unwind first. Before my mind and soul can begin to receive, my body must become disarmoured. I cannot hear the invaluable lessons of life if I have a firm grip on all the levers. Unable to listen to the wisdom of nature, my body, and the universe, I cannot possibly honor my spiritual and creative forces. 

But when I do become disarmed mentally and somatically, my everyday problems suddenly seem a lot smaller. 

And then, I know the answers. They were always there. 

It’s the act of pranam—prostration in yoga—face down on the ground that opens up the dam. It’s the act of vulnerable feminine dance up against the wall, eyes closed, that marks the transition from active to receptive.

Can I dare to suggest that we would all thrive if we fostered a feminine practice?

What if it was normal and expected that we dedicate time and energy to our spiritual, creative sides?

What if it was as normal as learning how to read? What if we considered it as necessary as sleep?

Is it possible that I could have avoided the situation I am currently in, if I actually paid attention to my body wisdom? Or better yet, if work culture actually gave a damn about its people?

Our glorification of and obsession with the masculine hustle is an epidemic. Hustling to feel productive. Hustling to have control. Hustling to win it all.

“Her relationship to her inner masculine has become distorted and tyrannical; he never lets her rest.”

The Heroine’s Journey: Woman’s Quest for Wholeness, Maureen Murdock

I’m opting out of the hustle that leads to physical injury, emotional pain, disease, and disconnection. I know a better way.