“Let me open like a flower”, she says.
“Just breathe, and I will open.”
“Let me stretch and yawn. Allow me to soften, soften, soften.”
I feel her words in my flesh, echoing in the chambers of my heart.
In response to her voice, I try to soften. I discover that trying to soften actually isn’t softening. The trying causes even the slightest tensing up of muscles. I can feel this. I can feel that I do not ‘know’ how to soften. And with this, I relax and breath. I breathe into the place that feels hard, the place that is tight and constricting. My breath knows how to soften flesh, and even how to soften my mind.
I do not have to ‘know’ how; my body naturally wants to soften. When it isn’t believing the tight thoughts I tell it, its natural state is soft. Mary Oliver knew this well. The animal of my being is soft. She has a soft animal body – except when she believes my thoughts – old, outdated thoughts that are really about the past or the future.
My soft animal body lives here, now, in the soil of life. She doesn’t like it much when she gets yanked around across time that doesn’t exist except in a mind that’s forgotten its part of an animal (a naturally soft animal at that) and part of life.
When it feels separate from flesh, my mind tries really hard. A really deep rut was created in my mind when I was young. The rut was thinking I had to try hard to be understood, to find the right way to do something, to make sure it was ‘the right way’ to do it. And, then, to put a bunch of effort into it. Lots of effort. Tight stomach effort. Clenched jaw and neck effort. Determined thinking effort.
When I feel separate from my flesh, flesh that hasn’t forgotten she’s a part of this earthly life, I harden with a sense of not belonging, a sense of having to protect myself from something unknown yet seemingly real.
But the soft animal? That’s not her way. She likes to lounge and from her soft body do what is in front of her. She likes to take in the world around her, to breath in the beauty of flowers and taste their fragrance. She loves to feel and then out of feeling do what she needs to do.
She likes to lick her paws, slowly, rhythmically, with great satisfaction. And then she moves.