My acupuncturist tells me I’m yin deficient, tapped out, done in, running on fumes. She says I’ve used up my ancestral chi, apparently not an easy thing to do.
I must look confused because she elaborates. Do I ever feel like I’m pushing through fatigue, resisting the siren call to rest? Do I ever skip a meal and drink a cup of black tea instead? Do I stay up too late reading or binge watching the latest? Do I say yes when I really mean no?
She has her cool professional fingers on my racing jumping leaping pulses and I feel like a spy hooked up to a lie detector.
I know how to do quite a few things well, but rebuilding ancestral chi? Restocking a yin deficient pantry?
I start with the obvious. I do a google search and begin making labor intensive bone broths with veggies slow cooked for hours. I drink this twice a day. I drink Chinese herbs prescribed by our local herbalist, and most days, remember to take my supplements.
The next time I see my acupuncturist we discuss the changes I’ve made. Despite all of the above, I’m still exhausted. She takes my pulses. She is patient with me, but in her kind way lets me know that perhaps I’m missing the point. Do I rest when I’m tired? Do I take breaks from electronics? Do I feel compelled to answer emails and phone calls when really, they can wait? How, she wants to know, do I nourish myself?
Nourish conjures luscious wet fertile slow intimate. A deep yes. Mouthwatering, ripe. To be nourished is to be touched by the sacred Feminine. She is asking how I extend this tender touch to myself when I’m depleted, emotionally overwhelmed, under-slept and hungry. She is gently suggesting that bone broth and Chinese herbs alone will not replenish and restore my deficiency.
I’m doing my best. Where I grew up in New York needing rest was a sign of weakness. Aren’t we supposed to be busy when someone asks how we are? And isn’t pushing through fatigue sooo Wonder Woman? And skipping meals? It was the tried and true way to fit back into your jeans.
During the years I was turning myself inside out making a family, learning the yield of partnership, I wish someone had told me that I had left myself out of the equation and that one day the math would catch up with me.
I wish someone had told me that caring for myself wasn’t selfish, that saying no had the blessings of rain and thunder, and that withdrawing into solitude was where I would find rest.
I wish someone had told me that time is elastic, a trickster, flowing as slow as the muddy stretches of the Chama River on a hot August day, then a raging whitewater avalanche of current tumbling at torrential speed over rocks. I wish someone had told me that days blur into nights blur into dawn and sink down into dusk again, that all those days and nights and meals scraped off plates and dishes washed would lead to this moment, when doors close on an easy youth that had so few deficiencies.
Listen: The body learns its lessons. Regret sits lightly like a bird in a pear tree, and grief whispers as well as wails. Listen: slow and easy will heal us, because a nourished heart beats softer and more generous than her starving sister.
–And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Raymond Carver, 1938 – 1988