I woke up with bizarre symptoms. I’ve always had ringing in my ears – tinnitus. My dad had it before me. Medical types said, ages ago, it was no big deal. So I’ve always thought of it like this: I can hear my blood singing.
Lately, though, some bass notes have joined the chorus. I wake up in the middle of the night and I want to know: What dingbat is running their generator? at this hour?
Thursday morning was a whole new opus. I was getting three distinct vibes, in such clear musical tones that I could actually sing along with them, harmonize. I couldn’t hear much out of my left ear. So I felt the “song in my heart” fun had gone on long enough. And then I lost my balance and almost fell.
Understand – I was actually enjoying the experience. I felt pleasantly light-headed. Sung-to. I had company.
But, really, this is the question: Is this just a sinus or deep-ear infection? As I hope and believe and pray? Or could it be something deeply, infinitely more scary?
Bugs is concerned.
If you haven’t run this marathon yourself, you doubtless know someone who has. The one where it takes seven phone-calls and five e-mails between Little Rock and Fayetteville, and that doesn’t include all the e-traffic on my behalf between Colorado Springs and Little Rock and Fayetteville – just to get a look-in with a specialist. Just to get an appointment. That’s all I’m asking: See me. Please. At the sound of the starting gun, may I please drop oh I don’t know at least and probably more than $700.00 of my no-insurance, Medicare-is-three-years-away dollars in your pocket? Please may I? Just first crack out of the blocks?
As matters stood this past Friday, Little Rock’s assistant promised she’d call Fayetteville’s assistant and get me in. For maybe three weeks hence. Or maybe Monday. I’m not sure which.
The deeply, infinitely more scary question is Ménière’s Disease. I prefer to call it Ménière’s Condition. Those who don’t get this condition diagnosed and under control in a hurry? Their lives don’t sound worth living.
So this crisis, or maybe-crisis, has inspired me this morning to write again about Listening. I’ve written about that at lot, in connection with my Bugs the Cat, for example here. But it’s been a while. Life – plus the season – shows up to remind me: It’s time to take another swipe at Listening.
You may know I’m a FELDENKRAIS® practitioner. The objective of this work is to bring awareness, by paying attention to movement through our physical selves, to our being’s capacity to learn. To become aware. To listen.
We were born, as infants, knowing how to listen like this. We were born with brains so marvelous and brilliant that we could teach ourselves, all by ourselves, how to hold our heads up, how to get our hands and knees and feet to bear weight under us – and from thence to take off on the marathon of life. We learned all that, all by ourselves. Magnificent.
To see what we once knew how to do, let this little master demonstrate. Watch, and learn.
The good, the awesome, news is that we can still learn like that. No matter how old or decrepit. All it takes is awareness. Listening. Paying attention.
So I’ve been living with this uncertainty for a couple of days now. I have found myself a little emotional. I like myself that way. I’m surprised by myself. I like that.
For instance, a FELDENKRAIS colleague wrote, on an e-mail chat-list, about the latest in our organization’s on-going attempt to define what “competency” is, how to measure it or envision it or embody it. This guy’s words so clearly conveyed the spirit of our work that, reading it, I was actually inspired to breathe more deeply. I felt such relief from the stodgy bureaucratese up to that point. I felt such gladness to be reminded, and so deeply touched, by the rhythms and silences I could sense, through our work, in what he wrote – I actually became a little tearful.
He was writing about how big, sweeping change can be exciting – but how small movement toward that direction, with time to take in the change, with clarity about the direction, is the wiser course. Assisted, he concluded, with each others’ presence and support. “Sometimes,” he wrote, “we need to be cheered up.”
Later that morning, as I led AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT® class, I found myself saying this, about our work:
“What we’re practicing here can be thought of as ‘kindness.’ What is that, kindness? What does it involve, in action? I hear it as an invitation to devote a certain care. To paying attention. Asking and not demanding. Considering what’s there and true, first, before we start mucking in with the changes. To me, this movement work is the physical equivalent of emotional kindness. We really need that. Both kinds. And we need to practice with ourselves, before we can extend that kindness, truly, to others. I wish every person, especially those who may be in physical distress, could feel what a difference it makes to dwell with yourself kindly.”
“So,” I said to those dear students who show up week after week to FELDENKRAIS class, “please do these movements as if kindness really mattered. It’s one thing for me to tell you that kindness matters. It’s one thing to trust or to believe that kindness matters. The real thing, the real thing, is to feel how it matters.”
Another time on the same chat-list, I read another story about our work. This one was about a Cajun fisherman who got up from a private session and told his FELDENKRAIS practitioner: “You whisper to me like I whisper to the fish, like that guy on TV whispers to horses.” It was, the practitioner said, a quiet moment. Filled with silence.
So I conclude, dear readers: Sometimes it becomes important to simply shut up. And listen to the whispers.
That’s the way it’s been with Cat Bugs, ever since the beginning. Where Google Translate has nothing on how to speak Cat – I have had to listen to whispers.
It pays off. One day he takes chunks out of me, and I’m so not sure. But the very next day, this can happen.
Meanwhile, I’m going off to listen. To the furnace. I think I hear a mean bluesy clarinet in there somewhere.