Shortly after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I decided to write down what my body was saying to me about having this condition.
I postulated that I would just listen and take dictation. I recorded the first things that came into my head that I imagined as the communication from my body at that moment. Here’s what I heard, and wrote:
Take care of me
I am your system
I am your lifeblood
I am a network which communicates with itself
I am a network of information pulsing within the world
I transmit what you need
I unfortunately must be plumbed with a needle
In a haystack
In a dimwit
In a bad girl
In a durable item
In a shining woman with tresses of auburn and a gown of netted gold
In an arched cathedral where you once stood witness and sang
I am your support to find your signals
I am your trampoline
I’ve got nothin’ but love for ya, baby
I’ve got some pain for you too
I remind you with each pinprick that you have skin
I remind you that you have borders which any prick can’t get into
I communicate in infinities of systems
But all can be known with the inner eyes
All my organs pulse with knowledge
I’ll make up for letting you down
Work with me
Play with me
I’ll nourish you
I’ll shine for you
I’ll be strong and sturdy
Through me you will cry, but then you will laugh
And I’ll feed you back
I’m all yours
I found myself near tears at points with the baldness of the truths that my blunt body stated. And I was impressed by the imagination and perhaps ancient memories it seemed to offer. I didn’t want it to be a finished poem; I was happy to just have it, a communication from the body like a message in a bottle pushed urgently to shore.
Afterward, I felt rather tender toward my body, appreciative of its ups and downs, its loyalty throughout this and other challenges. I felt forgiveness – toward my body, and from my body toward myself.
Try this little exercise, also called "free writing." Find a spirit of childlike playfulness. No judgments, just listening. You don’t have to be a writer to do it. The outcome doesn’t have to be “good writing.” It doesn’t have to be poetic or meet any other standards.
Pick up a pen, or go to your computer. Pretend you’re just taking dictation. Don’t stop to revise. Don't stop at all, in fact. Don’t censor. If you don’t hear anything, write the first thing that comes into your head. Don’t wait for something “good” or “inspired” to come to you. It may feel like junk or nonsense at first. At some point, you'll start to get meaningful stuff, even if you don't see it that way while you're producing it.
If you have a specific issue you've been working on, ask your body to talk to you about that. It could be weight gain. It could be exhaustion. Just ask, and "take dictation" from your body as it tells you something in response. See what flows from your awareness down your arms, onto the page or screen. Start.
No one else has to read it. Or you may want to share it. You’ll have fun, and you’ll feel surprise.
Whatever other emotions arise, just allow them to be there in your experience for a few minutes. Then take a deep breath, and exhale. Put away what you write someplace you can find it, so you can pull it out and read again.
I know that one thing you’ll feel is relief: one always does in the face of intimate truth.
The communication from my body shown above was written decades ago. The other day I decided to do this exercise again. Here's what came out:
You make me work so hard
And yet I love to stretch out
Here in the middle stretch, in fact,
It’s a bit more challenging to keep taking the next step
Yet what else are we here for?
And what alternative do we have?
Yes, this dull ache is still here in the right hip
But so many other dull, or not-so-dull, aches have come and gone
I know you’re better at handling the flaring-up pains
Those dramatic, cry-it-out, think-it-out, emotional waves
But here I am just carrying you through
I need you to notice this
If I were a horse, would you give me an apple?
If I were a dog, would you massage me more?
In fact, I’ve noticed, you do massage your dog a lot more often than you massage me!
It’s OK to take it easy, you know
And I’m more resilient than you sometimes remember
So, baby, let’s get ready for the rest of the race
Or is it a marathon? A marvelous, a Malomar,
A mistake, a message,
A missive, or a mistress? (no – that last one is me) –
Maybe it’s more than you bargained for,
All this living, and yet I know my duty,
To live, to revive, to restore, to regret,
copyright © 2013 Lisa Bernstein