I don’t really know what that phrase means. I just know that as I reached down with my strap to wrap around my toes in yoga this morning, my hip sure didn’t feel it happening. More like delicate and deliberate was the course of action.
Petrified pelvis was the phrase that came to mind. I’m not sure why I was so stiff this morning; perhaps it was in response to all the walking I did yesterday, computer bag slung across my body, low heels on my feet, celebrating itinerancy from Parking structure to DRC, DRC to MCC, MCC to DRC, DRC to MCC, MCC to SCD, SCD to car (the last in a heroic crawling stance as I struggled to remember where I parked my car at the end of the day).
And they say professors are out of shape. I can definitely see why we have a relatively short shelf life, say forty to one hundred years of teaching; you wouldn’t think the physical demands of teaching would be so well, physical. Add the distance and heft of our necessary tools to all those competing forces like Pride and Ego. You can’t let those youthful students also trudging past or whizzing by on their skateboards, phones at eye level, earbuds firmly in place see you wincing at the woeful footwear you’ve selected that morning. Not that they are paying the least bit of attention to you as your computer bag thumps with each stride against your hip, threatening to displace it, or at the very least bruise your thigh. They aren’t, I assure you. Nor should they.
But deliberate flow is what happens by necessity when you have a day like mine was yesterday, and it is the thing we are perhaps most called upon to model for our students. I frequently sit on my couch at night preparing for all the meetings and classes listed on my over-zealous smart phone. That’s the deliberate part. But when the day begins and I zip from carefully calendared meeting to meeting, topics the range of which I couldn’t possibly describe, one brings one’s years of expertise? Humanity? Wits? Hopefully wit? And one opens oneself to the experience at hand. That’s the flow part.
Is that part trainable? Or is it imprinted in us by our parents and early childhood mentors and experiences? I thought today about when I was seven, on a Sunday morning, and I eagerly skipped behind my brothers on the wooded path that was the shortcut from the Lutheran church to our home. We’d been allowed to do so by our parents, who undoubtedly would have preferred to have us safely in the car with them. Along the way, the toe of my patent leather shoe snagged in the trap of a looping root, I tumbled, cutting my knee, bloodying my leg, ruining my white knee socks and my knee.
Get up. You’re fine.
So say your older brothers unceremoniously, and so you do, because, face it, you are fine. And when you get home, your mother wipes the blood away with a wet washcloth with the deft grace learned from two boy children, slaps a bandaid on it and sends you outside to play.
We humans have hundreds of these types of events in our lives, the reparations for which range from a bandaid, years of therapy, countless cycles of grief. We pick ourselves up over and over again, each time, either fortified or diminished by the experiences. And we move forward. My childhood experience and education taught me that I was fortified by the mistakes. I recognize I’ve been fortunate to not have the unimaginable losses that some others have picked themselves up from. (Fervently knocking the wood of my desk….)
I’ve thought so much about the folks in Houston, and now Florida, who prepared or don’t prepare or couldn’t prepare for the onslaught of catastrophic weather events that have become all too frequent. Twice this week I called to talk to loved ones in Florida to make sure they were taking the precautions that they should to get away, to protect their homes. But I’m not there, nor would being there be appropriate or helpful.
I thought a lot yesterday while exercising deliberate flow in my meanderings up and down McClintock Avenue. Some were vocalized among my esteemed colleagues on the staff and faculty.
- When does a child become an adult with agency for his or her schedule, decisions and life? How can we lovingly and objectively witness those growth moments?
- When is worrying about loved ones useful?
- When is worrying about loved ones a distraction from what we need to do for ourselves and our growth?
- Can I encourage everyone I know to put their shoes and a flashlight next to their bed so that they don’t end up wandering in the street in their bare feet after an earthquake? Can I do it without getting laughed at? Does it matter that I get laughed at?
- How can we take responsibility for each other without overstepping our bounds as parents, teachers, friends?
And as my colleague, Phil Allen so wisely said yesterday:
- Completing a task is not the same as not completing it with a really good explanation.
This week at home, I convinced my Excellent Actor Husband to accept the assistance of some Home healthcare. If you followed my post last November about the first attempt we made at non-self-sufficiency, it was a disaster. I’m happy to report that three days have gone by on our second attempt and all is well. Just the fact that after that experience we could have dusted off our patent-leathers and continued skipping is a testament to resilience and trust. News like the Equifax Security breach this week is enough to send one back to bed for the rest of one’s life, but I bet we will overcome this trauma, too.
If we had the answers to all of these questions and the thousands more that we think each day on our travels up and down McClintock Way, we’d be well on our way to achieving deliberate flow.