My Lenten practice is to write “Mercy” on my left hand, in the curve that leads to my thumb, every day, in Sharpie. It is possible that this practice will poison me. I have googled “Sharpie tattoo.” It’s less painful than flogging oneself with thorny branches, though.
Anything outside my routine distresses me slightly, so while I was certain I would take off work for A Day Without A Woman (I can, so I will), and figured I’d go to some part of the gatherings, I also fretted because my routine was broken.
My routine right now is not great, though.
My waking up is: alarm, turn on NPR, half-sleep, snooze goes off.
If the news is particularly snarky, I am snapping, aloud, back at the innocent announcers. “Yeah, that’s a great idea. Tell poor people to save money they don’t have to pay for health care.”
Looking at my phone, at Facebook, this is how I seduce myself to open my eyes, to see who likes the clever things I’ve written, who has responded cleverly, who has said clever things, who has shared the infuriating news stories must I read.
Then I’m freaking the fuck out before I even put on my glasses.
I can see to read on my phone when I close one eye and hold it real close. My jaw tight, my shoulders poked up.
I forgot how during the Bush administration, merely the sound of his name elevated my heart rate, particularly leading up to the Iraq war, which I had protested against, like many other thinking people.
I forgot how once Obama was sworn in, every time I heard his name on the radio, I had the same feeling I get when I hear my Dad’s cough, when I am home, I sleep above the kitchen, and I can hear my dad cough, and I feel, okay, he’s got this.
My dad is not a fan of the president’s, thus this is a funny comparison.
I am exhausted from knowing there is a president who is insane, and a president who has spoken so violently and crudely about women. It doesn’t go away.
Here is how Facebook may help you: post your plan, then feel as if you must fulfill it. Post that you are going to do yoga, and you might. I told all those nice people I was going to have a nice day, so I guess I better.
I have not done yoga since DT was elected, because who can do yoga when Rome is burning?
I had a session with a student yesterday, she had hit a wall with schoolwork and said, “I just couldn’t make myself do it.”
“Do you meditate?” I said.
We talked about meditation videos, apps, podcasts.
Then today, since I had the whole day off, and since I had already done the yoga, I meditated.
I have meditated since DT was elected, only because I belong to a group where we meditate. Every time I leave feeling enormous, my proper weight, physically and emotionally, and color-corrected.
But I only have so much force-myself in the day. I can make myself read my Biblical passages, and take a moment of gathering myself, on the train in the morning, but the train at the end of the day: no way.
I actually think there’s nothing more important than meditating right now.
This does not mean I’m actually going to do a lot of meditating. It’s just a theory.
An advantage of being a woman is that your body can be used for greater purposes. That has been a Christian idea I’ve always loved: Mary and her body and her openness to letting God use her. She was asked, she said yes, she let it happen.
Another advantage is that you choose what to let in, who to let in. (It should be this way, I know for many too many women this is not the case.) That’s a part of your thinking from puberty on. You choose who you let in, what you let in. If you let shit in, you’ll feel like shit.
Sometimes I look at my hand and it says, “Mercy,” and I think about being merciful to myself. Sometimes I think of being merciful to someone else. Sometimes I think, “The quality of mercy is not strained/it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,” which was written on a monument outside the hospital, near where I used to work. The quote continued: “Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;/It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
Sometimes I think, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”
I need voices, though, bedtime stories and morning stories to wake me, and it must be interesting enough to hook my chattery mind and dull enough to smoothly slide into dreams.
NPR has markers to let me know it’s time to leave, though, they do a “gig alert” bit that means I have ten minutes. A youtube reading of Moby Dick won’t do this. Although it is extremely soothing.
How to remain active, speaking of yoga, like warrior pose, ready, active, but not strained, not set by the rhythm of twitchiness of the internet. I don’t know. I really like reading a crazy article in the Times, then in the Post, then on CNN, then from Fox. Shit! My God!
The quality of mercy is not strained, or twitchy.
It is loose.
There is nothing more important we can do right now than calm down. I’m afraid eventually, somehow, the government will calm down, and we will have to again sit with only our own problems with ourselves and our stupid friends.
Think of the sculpture at the front of the chapel with Jesus with the whole world in his hands, like the song. I can hardly believe in that idea. It doesn’t matter if I believe in it. It’s still there.
Image: String of beads, Predynastic, Egypt, ca. 3900-3650, Metropolitan Museum of Art.