The world is changed by your example, not your opinion.
PAUL COEHLO

With all the words of wisdom printed and spoken among us, it’s easy to forget that words are not wisdom – are not whole incantations. They are abstractions, shadows and lures.

We stand on ceremony. Recipes must be followed: eye of newt obtained and boiled.

Though I still long for an easy fix of magic words alone. No quest necessary.


How old were you when you realized that you and someone you love could be sharing time and space and still experiencing entirely different realities? I believe I learned this later than most.

I believe there is a communicative purpose in silence.
I believe words can be a distraction at best, and lies, all too often. Unintentional or not.

A heartbeat cannot lie. A touch sometimes reveals more than intended.

Tension in jaw, or the ease of intercostal movements with each breath – these things can be heard, read, understood. The rest is metaphor and presentation. And the words, oh, the words can be nonsense and music: a chattering that says “I’m here, I’m still here.”


I am able to run again. I wonder if the truth for everyone is “again”. Every morning is a confirmation that nothing follows effortlessly – that life is not a matter of momentum, but of obstacles and exertion. Struggle is optional.

A clean MRI and “normal” degeneration, because despite what we tell ourselves, life is not a straight line of growth, it is a curve – if we are lucky.

I am lucky. Life is more than I’ve expected.

In the mornings – now that autumn is close – I sweep dead petals out of the yoga space. I lay out the mat, light the candles, and finish my coffee staring at the clouds through a rain-stained glass.

The first forward bend reveals the dreams lodged in my joints. The arching of my back makes space for them to free themselves, and fall away.

Right leg back, and arms overhead in a crescent lunge: inhale again. Stay upright. Stay open. Acknowledge the bones of the neck, give them the space they need to speak their wisdom.

By the time I put on my running shoes, I am ready for the chatter.

I’m still waiting for the results of the second MRI. The doctor says it can verify a slipped disk, or cancer. But if it’s stress-induced, well – I function too well to qualify for a counselling referral. Despite my previous diagnoses. We go through the side effects for the various pain killer options.

I opt for wine.

Though it’s not on his list.

The chiropractor tells me I have an “irritation” of some kind in the C5, C6, and C7 vertebra on the left side. He says to carefully push my range of motion with the exercises the physical therapist gave me. Continue with yoga.

The woman whom I’ve been getting Thai massages from for the last two years tells me it’s a matter of crossed nerves. She says look up and down – not sideways – 50 times a day. Up. And. Down. She demonstrates, fingers laced behind her head, elbows tight to her ears.

I miss my daily asana practice. I sporadically work with flows. Warrior two – chiropractic approved, Reverse Warrior, compatible with the Thai-therapist’s advice. Sirsasana? Not happening.

All I know is that my neck hurts in a way that makes my heart ache. And that doesn’t make any sense. I’m feeling claustrophobic. Two months now.

We’ve been hiking on the few sunny days we’ve had. Or actually, the days that have started out sunny and ended with white-weighted skies and large, singular drops of rain.

I move slowly, sinking the pole into the dark wet to test the depth before each step. Or balancing tuft to tuft on the balded heads of sunken monks. Everything dead is alive on the long walks over the moor.

I try not to stumble, afraid of an inevitable stabbing pain in my neck.

There are tiny frogs on the trail. We counted five alive. I count each of them as a sign of promise. Blue dragonflies hover over the puddles like neon warnings. Their Norwegian name is “eye-sticker”, and it still freaks me out when E. says he sees one.

Bog cotton waves tiny flags of surrender: walk around this spot, or change your socks afterward.

Sheep’s bells. Always the sheep’s bells to let us know we’re not alone up there where we see clear to the North Sea.

Home, I prop my aching neck on a pillow and binge watch an old television series. I read a book and wonder why I’m not writing more. I nap.

And I wake to the sound of sand – or the roll of a maraca – my neck aching. I can’t even turn my head to kiss my husband.

I’ve a limited range of motion, and a fear of losing perspective.

I keep asking myself if I want to write a memoir. But isn’t that what I am continually doing?

Besides. There’s no one to verify a word.

The first time

a boy

wanted to kiss me

I made him do it

underwater.

That’s when I knew

I was amphibious.

from “Red-eared Slider, X”.
Powell, R., & Lodén, E. (2004). Mixed states = Rødøret terrapin. Stavanger: Wigestrand –
and selected poems, Mixed States. Phoenicia Publishing.

If I did write a memoir, I would write it with water, on water, in water.
Water makes the world simultaneously lighter – and darker.
It clarifies and it distorts.
Soothes and terrifies.

I’ve been having vivid dreams. Usually that happens when I’m depressed. But now I think it is menopause – this crossing over. Crossing through.

There is a place in Skagen, Denmark, where two seas meet and the sky is soft. Once I watched a friend swim there with seals. It’s dangerous, though. One helluva rip-tide.

Envy leaves a deep wound in the soul.

I dream about my sore hipbones, where my six-year-old wraps his skinny legs and holds tight – anchoring me. He is giggling while I try to pry him off, tugging at his long arms: Monkey child, I giggle too, but my bones ache.

And I wake to a different kind of ache.
It’s like I’m underwater most days – sounds are muffled. I push my jaw forward, trying to clear my ears.

Nostalgia takes me by surprise. It’s yet another concept I prematurely believed I understood.
Prematurely dismissed.

There are roses on my desk. The stems are refracted.
What’s underwater is magnified.
What is above is withering and should have been tossed in the compost a week ago.


Postscript: Weekly writing prompts at NothingButMetta4. I hope you’ll check them out. And I hope they are inspiring. #nothingbutmetta4