Learnding


[ee-kwuh-lib-ree-uhm, ek-wuh-]  

noun, 

1. a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.

2. equal balance between any powers, influences, etc.; equality of effect.

3. mental or emotional balance; equanimity: The pressures of the situation caused her to lose her equilibrium.

4. Chemistry . the condition existing when a chemical reaction and its reverse reaction proceed at equal rates.

 

It is unquestionably the case that I have always struggled with balance. I mean this in the most fundamental practical sense as well as the abstract. Seeing with only one eye casts the world in different terms for me than most people are able to perceive it.  I have had to become very good at estimating the distance between two points; and though I can render the information internally into terms that are useful to me, I cannot always communicate this reliably to others.

Happily, though I must continually consult my own inner yardstick to see if it needs to be recalibrated, running has been incredibly useful in cementing my ability to judge these things in terms that can be conveyed to others meaningfully. I can now very reliably estimate how long a mile really is; I used to be laughably bad at this. Now, by virtue of having learned to attend to what my body feels like moving through that amount of space, I am better able to track my progress, as well as make an appraisal of the necessary effort required for a return journey.

In addition to my movement lengthwise in the world, I have also been training myself to cope with kinetic movement in three dimensions. This involves perching on unstable bouncy things trying to keep my feet beneath me while swinging heavy objects and watching myself in the mirror. Forcing my body to try and maintain while I observe myself make the attempt fires neurons in my brain that have so long lain dormant. Once the woman who fell down at the slightest provocation, I am now possessed of the capacity to catch myself if I start to tip over; more shocking, even than this, I can also catch things if they are thrown at me, which is an entirely new skill at this very late stage.

So, balance is beginning to assert itself. Perhaps most surprising, this is true not only of my physical person; it is also easier to balance instinct with information, hunches against hard fact. I still tip one way or the other, but it is much easier than ever to pause, breathe, and decide to let the scales drift to parity once more.

 

 

 

 

 

[ab-di-keyt]  
 
verb
 
1. to renounce or relinquish a throne, right, power, claim, 
responsibility, or the like, especially in a formal manner:

King of the Black Isles – Maxfield Parrish 1907

 

It is customary to imagine that giving things up is unpleasant. That to deny ourselves something is necessarily disagreeable. I have been thinking lately about renunciation and its many inherent virtues.

I hinted at some of this back when I spoke about abstinence  and even, in some ways about being biddable : giving things up has many advantages.

Responsibility comes with its own special set of privileges, to be sure, but so too does it incur collateral duties. Accepting anything –  a premise, an honor, a gift – makes incumbent upon the recipient a whole host of requirements; adherence to principle, humility, gratitude.

To my mind the reverse may also then be implied; to relinquish or renounce these things eliminated their concomitant constraints. It is this notion that appeals most to me; if I am able to shed the ideas and actions that have failed to serve me, so too am I freed of the burdens they have set upon me.

Hereby, I abdicate:

~The notion that I must apologize for being myself.

~The doctrine that I must prove my worth.

~The sense I lack anything to be complete. 

~The idea that I cannot trust my instincts.

~The temptation to believe anyone knows better for me than I do.

~The belief that my value is predicated on anyone’s opinion but mine.

Conventional wisdom tells us giving up is easy, and has no reward. I think in my case, the reverse is true. So, I struggle to surrender, for limitless recompense.

 

 

This is the work of Terry Fan. If you click on the photo, you will be taken to his website.

Some years ago, on the first of May, I took myself to the ocean and built a giant fire to herald the beginning of spring. There was a huge moon that lit the night so well, I needed no other light by which to see. I dragged my camping mattress down onto the sand and let myself sink into the moment. I wandered away from myself for a while, listening to the crash of the waves, and staring at the night sky.

As I lie there, this notion came unbidden to mind; that the ocean, and indeed the Earth itself, is nothing but a vast organic machine. Its processes are no less regulated than that of a mechanism, even if our best chance at progress as well as our greatest opportunity for disaster seems to occur when there is a malfunction.

Since that time, I have had doctors tell me that traits I always attributed to personality or temperment, could easily be ascribed to ongoing electro-chemical misfires the roots of which began in utero. As I spun, anchored but unsteady, in my mother’s womb, my brain could not recognize which way was up. Sometimes, I think that is still the case… 

The result of this confusion caused my brain to establish neural connections that are profoundly unlike that of most other humans. It means my body and brain do not behave in conventional ways when exposed to stimuli. I have an unusually keen sense of smell, I can see with particular acuity in very low light conditions, and I rely more confidently on what I hear than upon what I see; I will often ignore the evidence of my other senses in favor of what I am told. Credulous, to a fault, I am.

This, though, might be what has honed the finest part of my machinery; for I am a most excellent mockingbird. I am not even entirely convinced I am a good singer so much as I am just such a gifted mimic as to make the distinction meaningless. Good with accents, too.

In the nature/nurture dichotomy, I have feet firmly planted on each side. I understand fundamentally that bone, tendon, and blood are subject to irresistible chemical laws as much as that the whole clockwork must have the explicit direction of my mind to move. I am so elementally a product of the atmosphere in which I was reared, both as a unborn child, and once I emerged into the open air that to pretend one had the greater effect is to ignore a weight of evidence heavier than the machinery of the ocean itself. 

 

Owl medicine is about vigilance, seeing through the darkness, and shedding that which is no longer required. So, then.

I’ll carve it on my spine and hope to remember what I needed to gain from this and discard that which hinders me.

And it is as close to a name etched in my flesh as is likely to ever be…