The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: space (page 1 of 2)

Take Space

At Tai Chi class last week, while practising the 10-form sequence, I felt a sudden instinct to extend my body farther out. So I began to stretch, lean forward, expand. Moved my arms further apart, expanded my chest fuller, widened my stance, sat deeper, rose higher. I felt larger, grounded and graceful, majestic.

I have always associated grace and beauty with a contained space. Expanding my body in Tai Chi, I thought, would make me look ungainly, awkward. Plus, I have nearly always been told that I am a petite, slender person, so it naturally follows that a person like me would take up less space, literally.

Hmm, I think I have grossly underestimated my body: size, height, width.

I am not a petite person. I take up a decent amount of space. But the truth may be that I internalized the petite-slender narrative well enough to begin taking up less space, literally. Perhaps, I shrank a little. Thankfully, I didn’t develop the habit of slouching or hollowing my chest or hunching the shoulders.

One day, I dumped the graceful walk. Placed my legs wider apart, dropped the shoulders, spread the arms out a bit. It felt good, freeing. I wasn’t swaggering or posturing; it simply felt like I was taking my rightful place, the actual volume of air-space occupied by my body.

I am sure there are all kinds of metaphors hidden (or not) in here, but I am going to leave it at that.

Retreat

Periodically, I get the urge to retreat.

I lose all inclination to talk to people and/or meet with them. Browsing Facebook or Twitter or Instagram has no charm. I feel like I want to stay indoors by myself (or with my husband who enjoys solitude as much as, if not more than, I do) puttering around the house. Or perhaps go out for a walk or hike, maybe a swim.

There is a strong urge to disengage from everything. I don’t want to read about politics or institutional racism or climate change or economic inequality or mistreatment of women or lack of sanitation, or whatever. I also am not interested in reading about Apple’s latest release or the cool styles on High Heel Confidential, or Heidi’s beautiful recipes on 101 Cookbooks.

I simply want to vegetate. Or ruminate. Or hibernate.

Of course, this stream of thought is immediately followed by another, filled with guilt and self-recrimination.

Aren’t you privileged? You can actually afford to disengage. You have nothing at stake. Not your health or employment or marriage or life. You have nothing to lose by detaching yourself from the everyday occurrences and goings-on of others. Aren’t you selfish? Instead of reaching out to people who are in need of help and support, you prefer to hunker down, like you are a self-styled hermit or a recluse.

You are neither.

You are a pampered, self-absorbed woman who has never wanted for a thing all her life. Most things came easy to you. You like to believe that you are a minimalist but that’s a relative perspective. You have everything you want, so you can actually afford to consider yourself a minimalist. You see yourself as a minimalist only because you look around and see how people spend money, acquire things, move into large homes, buy big cars. None of that is related to you, really.

Okay. But none of this, in any way, diminishes my strong desire to retreat inward, literally and metaphorically.

I used to consider myself a regular extrovert but now it seems like that was a thin veneer that shed itself as I ventured into my mid-late thirties.

So, all of this – acknowledging my need for quiet, space, solitude – is new to me.

But I am gulping it down like a much-needed glass of water. So perhaps, all of this is timely and essential.

Space and Time

Most comfortable chairs ever

Most comfortable chairs ever

This evening I came home and made myself a cup of tea. Pulled out an oft-read beloved book (“The Sunday Philosophy Club” by Alexander McCall Smith) and reclined comfortably in one of the two blue-grey chairs by the window. It was a quiet evening. No kids playing out or cars driving by or birds chirping. I sipped my tea and read for a while.

After a few minutes, the peace stealing through my soul felt so urgent, almost compelling. I had to lay my book aside and reflect a little.

A year or so ago, my life began to change. Objects and activities started exiting out of my life, literally and metaphorically. Clothes, music, furniture, books, knick-knacks, hair, interests, people… I bade farewell to all of them. It was an exodus of sorts. I felt that I was creating space. For what? I had no idea. But the decluttering motion had its own energy, rhythm and momentum. I simply followed along.

I discovered the joy of space and time, all to myself. And this space in my house, my head and my life feels so vital, so life-giving… that I wonder if, at a sub-conscious level, I even chose to remain childless because of my intense love for this space and time.

I am, what many term, a “spacey” personality. Previously, I chafed at that description but its meaning is simple. My Ayurvedic constitution is an Air-Space combination. Why resist it? After all, it connotes expansiveness, unboundedness, freedom. As long as I am able to find my grounding and center, it is bliss.