JULY 14, 2011 9:26PM

Life Suds!

Rate: 11 Flag

The bar of soap slipped out of my wet hand, the 3 glasses of wine I had just consumed compounding my poor grasp with compromised focus. “Damn” I thought with exhaustion, “now I have the work of summoning all my concentration for the challenging task of picking it up”. At least the wine succeeded in temporarily taking my mind off the intense discomfort of the 7 year old scar tissue strangling my whole torso, and the even more suffocating rebellion in my spirit against this suffering despite the years of stretching for relief. It hadn't been a good night.

Even though I remain hopeful, I accept the possibility that no amount of stretching will completely make up for the lack of skin my burn left me with. A shortage that squeezes me into a birthday suit too small for my body, robbing me of the stretch that a lot of movements require. Like bending to pick up a dropped bar of soap. But I've learned to adapt, doing old things in new ways.

With concentration I force my weight against the resistence of tight scar bands to lower onto one knee. Once stable, I bend forward as much as I can stretch the tight skin on my back and pull against the lockdown of adhesions on my thighs and butt to bring me the small distance it takes to get my outstretched hand to where the bar of soap lies. I wrap the stiff fingers of my only hand carefully around the bar of soap. My thumb can no longer bend to complete the grasp effectively so I compensate with greater attention. If I grip too hard the wet bar of soap will rebelliosly slip out of my imprecise clutch. If my grip is insufficiently firm it will also escape. I want to succeed in my first try because it is a lot of work for me to bend down to pick anything up, and a wet bathtub adds risk to the difficulty of maintaining equilibrium without fluidity of movement. So I have reclaimed all my focus from the effects of 3 glasses of wine and directed it toward success.

Suddenly I see that the very demand of accomplishing this simple goal is also a gift, its value equal to its price. The gift is the revelation of my own capacity. The appreciation of this gift is the touching of it with my consciousness, like the fingers that feel with pleasure the beauty of a gift the eyes behold.

I see in this simple act, hiding behind the sacking of frustration and resistence, and the ordinariness of a wet bathtub, a microcosmic example of a grand truth: life presents us with challenges to reveal to us the gifts within us. A truth memorised for the big things in life, the threat of which automatically snap me into attention. But now I see that it was only I that made the distinction between big and small, worthy and unworthy, life changing and ordinary, categorizing according to the criteria of threat or grandeur that blinded me to the power inherent in all situations. Everything it seems, every little action, can present the same challenge, the same gift of opening a window to or a door to or blowing the roof off of my soul. I was too busy looking out, or distracted by the continual output of me, to look in through the peep holes to the soul that even picking up a bar of wet soap opens up. Suddenly I feel with my heart the equal largeness and smallness, specialness and ordinariness of every single step, lightly made.

I see the wet bar of soap in every challenge, demanding a simultaneous concentration and release of me to meet it, revealing to me my capacity, my power, my soul. The price equals the value. And like the art of finding that fine point between too tight and too loose a grip that allows me to hold that wet bar of soap, every challenge met reveals the effective point of being that rests between tension and slackness. The point that allows.

Life suds!

 

 

 

Author tags:

life and learning

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
". . life presents us with challenges to reveal to us the gifts within us."

What a riveting piece - I am both humbled and fighting tears reading this.
♥R
"The gift is the revelation of my own capacity. The appreciation of this gift is the touching of it with my consciousness, like the fingers that feel with pleasure the beauty of a gift the eyes behold. "

Stunning. Thank you.
Fusan and Bleu, thank you so much for reading and taking the time to share your feelings - means a lot to me, especially since I've been out of the loop. Your responses are deeply encouraging.
The courage to express myself is very rewarding, but when that expression makes a connection, and your comments showed me the connection, it is humbly divine. Thank you.
The courage to express myself is very rewarding, but when that expression makes a connection, and your comments showed me the connection, it is humbly divine. Thank you.
maria, you are amazing. this reminds me of the first piece or two you posted here where you showed us who you are and how incredibly well you write about the world you inhabit since the fire. this time it's the "revelation of my own capacity" as demonstrated by picking up a bar of soap. what words you have and what understanding; i marvel at what goes on in your mind and how well you tell your story.
You are helping us to marvel at the worlds reveled in activities that move along unnoticed. To do this has value in our preoccupied, multitasking society. I also marvel at the level of mastery you have attained through the dark challenges of your days. Be well Maria...
From fire to soapsuds, Maria, you are gifted.
No one, just no one (aside from you, friend) writes like this. I do so wish to read more of you.

rated.
They say in prison a dropped bar of soap presents a different set of challenges, and no "release" is advised. brokeback rimshot

I suspect no bars or walls could hold your spirit, Maria. With your courage, love of life and deeper insight than most ever find, you've transcended to a place I can only try to imagine. It's a place our species needs to reach as a whole, and soon, if it hopes to survive. And you write like the devil. I heart Maria.
Absolutely amazing! You are coming into yourself more and more each day! Finding that soul that pushes through, makes you strong and gives you the ability to do what you do on a day to day basis. Thanks for being my friend if I don't tell you enough.
Absolutely amazing! You are coming into yourself more and more each day! Finding that soul that pushes you through, makes you strong and gives you the ability to do what you do on a day to day basis. Thanks for being my friend if I don't tell you enough.
Magnificent spirit, and telling, Maria. Should have been an EP.
A restricted the body with a limitless soul.
My dear, you make reaching for a bar of soap a captivating experience and a 'learnable moment'. That's exceptional.
This fan waits for every next installment with anticip... ation.

M
Maria: This is wisdom, pure & simple & beautifully rendered.

The struggle you describe is something we all face but manage to ignore, usually until it's too late and the life has passed us by. As you have used your own experience to illustrate a great truth, let me humbly echo what you say with my own experience. Indulge me please as I wrestle my way into a way of expressing what your observation means to me.

I've found that much of my life has been spent trying to keep my self safe from every harmful-seeming eventuality, especially as I've gotten older. My wild days are well behind me and now I find comfort in routine, in predictability. It feels like peace to me but I know that's not true. If it were, I'd feel a lot more grateful for it than I do. I wouldn't want to go to sleep. But that's become one of my favorite things to do anymore.

The events of my life that have served me the most were the hardest, most difficult times, when I had no choice but to confront whatever I was faced with. I'll forgo describing the examples; suffice it to say that in the midst of those experiences, I felt miserable and bereft.

Those were also the times that allowed me to stop hiding from life. I've it to be true that life is met most fully under extreme circumstances. And it's a gift to be able to see that and to convey it so directly and touchingly for those of us who recognize what you say but have settled back into a comfort zone where we've fallen asleep to life and its beauties.

That's why your post means so much to me, why it moved me and left me shaking my head in agreement. I have no wish to re-live past difficulties. But I do wish I could remember the unexpected bounty that resulted from those hard times. The scars you bear have allowed you to see the world as it is and to deliver your vision of that world not from the world of the intellect, not from theory or opinion but from your experience. It's like what Blake was able to see and portray by observing that single grain of sand -- the world as it is, wiped clean of everything that doesn't matter.

I celebrate your achievement here and I thank you for it. I can't think of a greater or more welcome use of a writer's skill.
My internet router died the day after posting leaving me with spotty access, none of which I'd even have without the best neighbor. It's been enough to read the generous comments you were so kind to give me. Thank you so much for reading this, and for the terrific feedback. Courtesy of starbucks WIFI, I can finally respond:

@ Gary Justis - thank you for valuing what I shared, and encouraging me.

@ mhold - I'm humbled, coming from you. Thank you.

@ Jonathan Wolfman - Wow. You put wind in my writing sails. Thank you deeply.

@ Matt Paust - your brokeback rimshot had Mark and I laughing with pleasure at your wit. Location and timing are everything! You are way too kind to me, which I love and don't want to discourage... but alas I have not transcended, so all the more fully appreciate those occasional moments of clarity. Moments that give me hope and which I endeavor to stretch into the living of my life in an invitation that is often not even RSVPed. But I know what you mean - we spur each other on - I'm in good company. And you're right about that devil in me. Thank you so much. I heart you too, Matt.

@ Jennifer Jenne - The help you give me frees me up that bit more to write. You're a very supportive friend. Thank you very much.

@ Lea Lane - your words always go straight to my heart Lea. I consider my post EP nominated by you! Thank you very much.

@ Mark Hopkins - my darling husband, that you want to read what I write is enough reason to write. Thank you so much.
Dear Jeremiah – Starbucks kicked me out before I could complete my response to you, which I then lost. So please forgive the delay. I will start again, and begin by saying that “Thank You” is a completely inadequate response to your wonderfully open, generous comment. I am stripped beyond gratitude to stand with you in shared truth. Reading your response I experienced fully the gift my writing returns to me, and marveled again at how the giving and receiving become the same thing in a continuous loop that elevates the spirit. Thank you for sharing and doing so with the eloquence that brought me right in, and reminded me of the value of listening well for the occasional visits of truth. I am too submerged in strong habits to consistently see “the world as it is” or even to see myself as I am. But occasionally I break through the surface, or pain does it for me. I now pray that all my lessons be joyful, believing hopefully that if I volunteer myself for that learning then perhaps I'll be spared further painful whacking by that cosmic 2 by 4 plank. But above all I endeavor to be at peace with what is – a struggle, which I also endeavor to be at peace with, including the lack of awakeness and the desire to sleep, both metaphorically and literally. We are all fascinatingly complicated, when I look. And that fine point that accomplishes the necessary balance for all things is a tricky thing to find. Maybe I won't find it in this lifetime, so I remind myself of the quote “It is better to travel well then to arrive.” and that the traveling is the seeking itself, knowing one day the quest will simply wear itself out naturally, and I will have true rest on that fine point of balance. Love to you my journey friend.
That was very powerful. Takes a lot of strength to be you.
Thank you for reading and rating Ilya. If I could choose to be someone else, I probably would in a jiffy. LOL.
You are courageous and wise. May you enjoy happy surprises as you move forward through the years.
We all write what we know, but I sense that you write so you will know. There's no denial here, and much like your effort to focus the whole of you for your soapy task, you bring the whole of you - both the reality of the everyday and the transcendence you seek - to the words you write. I can't know if writing helps you, but it is a gift to us.