When I am able-bodied and strong, it is easy to create the illusion that I and those I love could exist in a vacuum. Nothing could be further from the truth. As humans, we are little jigsaw pieces of a hugely complex society, each performing a task so that the next person won’t have to. This realisation hits me a few times a year, often when the collective conscious is focused on something with ultimately kind and inclusive intentions like Christmas. It is enough to make me want to bow in gratitude, Japanese style, to everyone from the woman who hands me my children’s drugstore needs to the man who cleans our common staircase.
But it is something else altogether to find myself not able to perform the tasks I usually tackle each day. After a busy year, tending to two children under the age of five, a house and a full-time job, the collective karma of sleepless nights, working through sick days and the pressure of performing as if it was still 2012, my body slowly caved in. After months of more or less subtle attempts, it finally spoke to me in a way I couldn’t possibly ignore; it hijacked my head and my ability to think quickly and clearly. Being weak and dependent is not a feeling that comes lightly to most people in our modern societies, and it is not something that comes easily to me. But it is an experience I am trying to embrace, no matter how difficult. There is truth in vulnerability. When I shed one layer of able-ness, I get a little closer to the core of who I am, and yet a little closer to people around me. Lying in a darkened room, trying to stop the world from spinning and inhabiting that strange weightless consciousness just between sleep and wakefulness, thoughts that I didn’t think I could possibly have inside of me manifest.
As I drift further away from the life I thought real and connected to, slowly letting go of what is right and proper, I open myself up to new ways of being. If I lose everything material; who am I? If I need to start all over again, could I? And finally, could I create a life built on a foundation that I really and truly believe in? A life where there is time for reflection, for care, for deep and meaningful conversation, a life which allows time to just float. A life less focused on targets and more on the present, the most important gift I will ever receive but that often passes me by.
And while I reside in what is hopefully a temporary condition of perceived weightlessness in the world, acts of kindness from people surrounding me have never affected me more or brought forth more honest feelings of gratitude. It makes me feel like the truth really is that we are all floating together, perhaps not physically attached to each other but close enough to throw one other lifelines, and the odd life jacket.