Leaving it on the Battlefield

The 18th leg of the Camino.

There are times I enter entirely mundane conversations outfitted in full battlegear. Purely defensive, mind you.

These days I’m able to catch myself sometimes.

These days, sometimes, I catch myself – only to persist with the stiff and cold confrontation.

There is a small, wounded animal beneath my breastplate. Wounded animals are illogical little beasts. They bite the hand that feeds them.

Today our guide invites us to contemplate which battles we can choose to walk away from and be all the better for it.

I get an almost Monty Python image of my head of a knight thrashing about in clanging armour, fighting invisible attackers why bystanders give each other knowing glances.

Some days I am that knight. There are so many battles that are long over that I am still fighting, and so many that I am anticipating – that may never happen.

What a silly way to spend my energy. I could be hiking over the same field, looking for lark’s nests, or grouse. I could be running, waist-deep through the grass. Or I could just lie back and stare at the clouds.

But I have this frightened little lemming-heart.

They eased the restrictions yesterday. One meter between people’s bodies, rather than two. Still no touching: No leaning into a friend’s shoulder when you share a laugh.

I’ve been thinking again about the healing nature of non-sexual touch. And about all the battles that have to be fought by many of us in order to bring that into our lives.

I think about Temple Grandin’s squeeze machine, about weighted blankets.

I think about how my gestalt therapist had me sit back-to-back with her. She asked me to lean on her – without worrying that I was too heavy for her to support, without fearing she’d chastise me when she changed her mind – or had had enough.

Sometimes our own bodies are the battlefield – the lines invisible, or shifting unpredictably.

Then again, maybe sometimes the battlefield as a metaphor can’t help at all to sooth our frantic hearts.

And all the armour is just… too heavy for the human body.

Even friendly fire
quiets with a sudden truce –
the river moves on

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