No one wants to die right? Unless you’re in intense pain, physical or psychological. We all know we’re going to die eventually, although a lot of time, effort and money go into denying that. I’m sure we all hope we die peacefully, in our sleep, in good health, aged over 90… Or the majority of us anyway.
I turned 50 last year, as I’m sure many of you have too. There comes with this birthday a realization that I’m probably more than half way through my time on this earth, and certainly the most energetic, adventurous, undefeatable half. Now my back aches if I try to camp & sleep on the beach, plus I feel the burden of mortgages and school fees cramping my style if I get the urge to up and travel to South America on a whim for example. Oh how the freedoms and vitality of the youth is under-appreciated by them!
Now that I’m half a century old, I’m pretty sure I’m never going to do many things I dreamt of doing when a teenager… Like being a famous journalist and living in a groovy loft in New York. Playing bass guitar in a reggae band. Being one of the lycra-clad weekly dancers on UK’s Top of the Pops. Having dreadlocks down to my bum, running a Youth Hostel in the rainforest near Cairns. Hitchhiking across Europe with my latest Latin lover. Buying a red soft top Mini Cooper and zooming around town- no, wait, I’m SO gonna still do that!
You get what I mean. Some things just aren’t going to happen. The opportunities slipped by, or I never created them. I love my life, and what I’ve made for myself, but every once in a while, I feel the wistful longing for an adventure that’s never going to be.
The beginning of a new year lets us reflect on what we’ve done (or not done), and what we hope to achieve in the coming 12 months. 2016 was such a huge, tumbling year for all of us: so many political challenges, so many environmental changes, so many deaths. I started 2016 by NOT staying up till midnight (true sign of ageing), but attempting redemption by getting up at 5am to greet the first rays of light at Australia’s most Easterly point. In fact, I blogged about it HERE.
I’d recently started a new romance, so we met there and held hands as dawn broke; it felt like an auspicious beginning…
Now bear with me, as it IS all going to connect in the end, but do you know what your Psoas is? Or how to say it? [Sew-az]. It’s buried deep in your body, running from your spine at the back, into your pelvis, through your hip bones,and out towards your thigh sockets.
In April, we went to a 3-day workshop run by the American grandma of all things Psoas, Liz Koch, who maintains it’s not a muscle, but an intelligent tissue, unlike any other in the body, capable of storing both trauma and wisdoms you can access to release.
Like any discerning teacher/practitioner, I take workshop advertising and testimonials with a big pinch of salt, but I saw with my own eyes her waist and spine undulating like a swollen snake. Never seen that before. I also watched a fellow participant in constant back pain, with completely flat spine and hollow demeanor, change by the 3rd day to having a curve in her lower back, looking 5 years younger with a twinkle in her eyes, saying she’d just had her first night’s sleep without pain in years.
So I did all Liz’s exercises: the breathing, the rocking, the hissing and shushing. I arched back and forth over soft balls, I rested, then rocked again. Lotsa rockin’. An’ restin’. I felt exhausted, and slept for 11 hours both nights. And somewhere in there, in all the rocking and releasing and hydrating, my Psoas “said”, as clear as a bell:
‘Prepare to die.’
Absolutely NOT what one wants to hear, any time, ever. Especially from within your own organs. I wished it wasn’t so. But that’s what I ‘heard’. And then I couldn’t un-hear it could I?
I didn’t tell anyone, not even my lover. I drove extra carefully for weeks. But Time passed, as it does, and I kept being alive, as I have done so far so good, so I let the awareness drift away gradually… Until France in July, 2 days before my 50th.
Born in France as I was, I’d wanted to be back there for such a significant birthday. I made a conscious decision to be away from all my friends and family, especially my son ‘16’, partly as a way of not needing to organize a big celebration and make a fuss. I invited that new romance to meet me there though… And completely underestimated the stress of travel, the loneliness of being away from ‘16’ after such a significant time there together the previous summer (see all previous Blog posts from September to November 2015), and the ghosts of my childhood and Dad who shadowed me at every corner in Paris.
I had a pretty shit birthday. There, I’ll admit it. I was an emotional, anxious mess, somehow cast adrift, and not sheltered safely in the arms of love. I must have been really hard to relate to, swamped as I was by my own intense experience… I felt weirdly swept up and ‘out of this world’ for the 2 days before, cried 3 times at least on the actual day, and felt so lonely. Not little wimpy sniffles either, but a full body wailing. A part of me died somehow, at the same time as part of me was being born into my next half century. I just had to surrender to it.
That’s how New Year’s Eves are too: we must mourn the passing of the old year, and all we filled it with, at the same time as welcoming the fresh adventures of the new one. We lost so many hugely influential entertainers and musicians in 2016; every one of them tied to a corner of our hearts in a different, personal way we perhaps can’t even articulate…
I will hold my hand proudly up as a longtime Wham fan; my brother bought me that single for Xmas 1984, and I reckon I’ve played it every damn Xmas since. I CANNOT BELIEVE HE DIED ON XMAS DAY:
What am I trying to say? My Psoas and I want you to be open to dying every day. Any day can be your last. Especially your birthday. Any day someone can leave you, or you can quit that job/stop smoking/shave your head/move to Venice/tell someone you love them at last. You can kill your old life any day, before it kills you, if it’s not bringing you joy.
I ended that romance. It hurt a lot. But it hurt being in it more. And my new life without it feels so much better. After some lovely solo time, I’ve started this new year in a new romance: totally unexpected, ground & rule-breaking, completely different. Heart-led. [More posts to come]…
So my Psoas was right: I did die. I wasn’t prepared to, even though I’d been officially warned, but it swept me up and away anyway. Which is the thing about Death isn’t it? Bowie, Prince, George, Carrie… the list of 2016 goes on… Relentless!
And now we’re in 2017. My resolutions are the same as last year: to be Brave, Vulnerable, Peaceful. I’ve added Being Kind as well, and I truly hope we can all be Kinder this year: to ourselves, to each other, to our precious planet, and to the fragile silver thread of Life we each hold, entwining ourselves with others’ hearts.
Happy New Year. Love your Psoas. Love your whole damn body. Love your Life.
Live your Love xx