Moving Inward


This morning the doctor said to rest. Things like torn ligaments and inflammation don’t give up the stage entirely to the novel little virus.

The waiting room had 6 chairs placed along the walls with 2 meters between. I sneezed and felt a stab of guilt. I got up to use more hand sanitizer, wondering if that would make the two other people in the room feel more comfortable.

The young doctor apologized for not offering to shake my hand. “We aren’t doing that now.” I smiled because I realized I have never quite gotten to the point of expecting it from doctors: courtesy.

I am off balance.  Imbalanced. And this is not a surprise. Nothing is permanent – no moment is truly still. Balance is just the illusion of stillness. Every held pose is full of movement. Every increment of time is infused with the effort of adjustment. Alkaline flows into acid, melancholy into rage. And back again. We teeter-totter a middle way. And we get so good at it we believe our own illusions: stability, permanence, health.

Just a short walk this morning on Day 5 of the virtual Camino. I’ve picked up my prescription, having kept a full meter’s distance from the pharmacist who fairly shouted the instructions to me.  And I will rest, as the doctor recommended.

But now, I watch an enormous flock of seagulls lifting from the pastures, then settling again. E. points out that how their shrieks drown out the larks’ singing. Two oyster catchers land on the edge of the lake, like spies of some sort. They almost blend in, but for their orange beaks.

The sky is bruised. Leonard tugs at the lead, pulling me off the trail. E. picks up a second wayward plastic bag that’s tangled itself in the hedge. Water seeps into my boots. I have to pee, and I wonder – where is the peace in this?

The doctor said to rest, when my whole being wants to run. I am weather-sick, as the Norwegian’s say. Sun-starved. Even now, when the days are so much longer than they were in February. I am rest-less.

It’s all an uphill climb now. I know it will level out at the top, with a nice view. But I’ve also climbed enough hills to know sometimes there is a second crest you don’t see coming. Steeper still.

This is what old women, know, isn’t it?
And what wise women acknowledge, but it is not where they dwell.

They stay in the moment with the bruised sky and the wet socks. Haggard, and balancing.

The guide tells us about Orcabella, whose spirit will meet us at the End of the World: the hag, whose beauty becomes apparent if, and only if, the king brings her pleasure.

An interesting – perhaps somewhat selfish – twist on the idea of gratitude being the source of beauty?

I’m going to share this story with E. It will be interesting to hear what he makes of it.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. James Brock says:


    Honest to god, I was reading about hags today, and the Orcabella myth is a totally new one for me. I was reading Lisa Robertson’s “Proverbs of a She-Dandy,” which I think you might find interesting. Here’s a link to the pdf file:

    Do take care!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ren Powell says:

      Thank you! I’ll check it out on the computer in the morning. It won’t open on my phone


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