The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: space (page 1 of 2)

The World that Beckons

There’s a world that beckons inward,
A space of quiet, non-threatening, plain and clean

I started going there as a child, I think?
I felt non-judged, felt like myself
(Whatever “myself” meant at that point in space and time)

I thought everyone had this kinda place
Surely, everyone needed it?

It took me a while before I got it:
That space was my own, my gift, a place I crafted for myself, maybe before I was even born
For refuge, for respite, a place to sleep and dream and let the tears flow

I still go there
every day
It is my own

And I like its neutrality

As a child, I felt it welcoming
Now I appreciate neutrality even more

Walls are pale grey-blue
Air flows in and out
There are windows, but none really
I feel the sun, the light and warmth

I hear the water

Is it a beach? A silent forest? Atop a mountain?

Are those clouds floating by, misting over?

Birdsong, chai, sounds of silence.

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.