Photo: Another craft I get to add to my resume. I love making Anglican rosaries. I think they represent a beautiful opportunity to intersect art and religion in a way that is preciously intimate. One set of hands expresses a prayer beaded form, then gives that prayer to another set of hands as a tool to facilitate yet more utterances of prayer. It makes me happy to make them. When my dear friend asked me to make her one with stone beads with healing properties, it was easy to say yes.
I sat at a Starbucks on Sunday talking with a local woman who is a mother and a writer like I am. We talked about all manner of things, as writers often do when they get together. I sat and knitted, because crafting is constantly on my mind these days and also because I think better when I’ve got something in my hands to fiddle with. My companion didn’t seem to mind. From time to time, her eyes would shift down at my hands with mild curiosity.
We got to talking about methodology for writing. This usually goes to conversation about favorite software. I confessed, with a deep sigh, that I write most of my fiction longhand. I can blog on the computer, do work on the computer, do just about everything else on the computer, but not write fiction.
“Why do you think that is?” She asked me.
I told her that I’m pretty sure it’s because my creativity lives in my hands. When I’m being my most creative self, my hands are doing all the work: chopping, kneading, stirring, flipping, knitting, purling, stitching, cutting, folding, beading… The act of writing longhand is a labor done in the hands. Because I can type as fast as I can think, the hands aren’t being creative when I’m typing. They move too fast. The fingers don’t feel like they are part of the process. I think. I guess.
The writer told me I should consider some talk-to-text software. “You can knit and write at the same time.”
The problem with that is that I don’t write in the way that I speak. In this blog, yes… but not when I’m writing fiction. My prose is more poetic in cadence and structure. To speak it would be awkward. (Which is hilarious, because I think that reading it out loud isn’t awkward. I’m weird.) I actually tried it on Monday: I opened up a Google Doc and the talk-to-text feature. I spoke 2 of the most awful sentences I’ve ever uttered, and then I stopped. I was painfully reminded that I don’t speak as fast as I think. That’s… probably not a bad thing. I’m going to chalk that up to a blessing.
This is a thought that I’ve been ruminating on all week. I stood in the church office yesterday and explained to the wonderful woman who does the worship calendar that I kinda hate LEMing. I love the giving of the Eucharist part. That part is easy. But the rest of it is awful: I hate the synchonized walking with the other LEM. I hate the synchonized bowing at the front of the altar. I hate reading at the podium, minding my cadence. I hate singing and processing at the same time. (When I LEMed on Sunday, I actually couldn’t breathe. I didn’t breathe from the back of the church to the front of it. I was damn near dizzy by the time I took my seat.)
“It’s so in the body,” I explained yesterday. “I really don’t like being in there. The Eucharist part makes sense. It’s my hands. I know my hands. But all the rest of it, it’s so bodily. It’s awful.”
“I’m awkward,” I declared. “I’m clumsy and uncoordinated. I’m not graceful by any stretch of the imagination.” How I missed that LEMing requires grace is beyond me. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention.
I think this is the first time in my whole life that I’ve ever admitted to myself that I hate my body. Not because of its look, but because of something else I can’t put my finger on (pun not really intended, but noticed with a chuckle). I honestly don’t think this is a cosmetic thing. It’s not about weight. It’s about capacity. Or control? Maybe, actually, since using it to create two humans and then feed those two humans, a sense of belonging never returned? My body became a place, a vessel, not my body anymore. Even just a few days ago, it ached to be a vessel again. “There is still time, if we wanted to, to try for that little girl…” I hate the ache. I really do.
I live in my head. I live in my digits. I try to connect with the heart now and again. I indulge the gut and spoil the tongue. All the rest of it I’d rather not think about.
Maybe that’s why I absolutely revere dancers and dance… but can’t do it, won’t do it. Maybe that’s why I don’t mind working out with my boys basically screaming at either side of me. I have to pay attention to what they are doing instead of paying attention to this body and moving it. Maybe that’s why I prefer swimming to all other workouts: the body is weightless, the movement fluid and mechanical after so many years of swim team as a kid. The body goes on auto-pilot and I just get to think. How lovely.
I don’t know why I’m spilling this all out on the blog today. Perhaps because I’m curious about where other people “live” in their bodies. Do you live in your core, Dear Reader? In your head? In your heart? In your fingers? I think my muse lives in his feet. I think my husband lives in his arms. I think Minor lives in his hands like I do, but I think Major lives legs. I think Grandy lived in her hands… I wonder what she would say to that if I could ask her? Maybe she’d say that she lived in her heart. Maybe, maybe.
Where do you “live,” Dear Reader? Do you love the whole of your body? And if you have ever felt like I do, did you ever somehow learn to love your whole body…? Am I weird to “live” in my hands and in my mind? Probably. I’m curious to know if I’m the only one.
Here is the completed rosary, by the way. I love the use of wood and stone. It makes me think of old, old churches. I also like her color choices and the interesting shapes and sizes of beads. I like the idea of prayer having a tangible feel with different tactile experiences throughout.
But then again, I’m a woman who values something in her hands.
See you Friday for Quiet Thoughts.