Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Young and Old Bodies Got Spirit

I've discovered something quite wonderful as I age— and it's not all my aches and creaks.
I watched my grandchildren, the latest one only six months old, begin to see, smile, sit, hitch, crawl, toddle, fall, run, skip, leap and dance. There is such joy in every bodily achievement. No need for a grade. The pure exhilaration of movement, praising Life itself, if enough.
Just recently I was privileged to witness the same bodily joy in a person age eighty two. She suffers from physical ailments all of which keep her a little depressed and mobile but with pain. But this day she came to see me with a smile. "I can walk!" She had always walked I thought.
She told me she'd decided to "take hold of her body and stop all this sitting around."
One of her loves is gardening. "I was afraid to get down there. I might never get up," she says. "But watch."
She did a demo—put the stool in front of her, rolled over it, got her one good knee positioned, curled her toes under, telling me she knew this move from yoga, braced her belly on the stool and stood up. She was overjoyed with the feat. "I'm walking better since I did that," she said as she strode, sort of, across the room as full of grace as a toddler in between falls.
Childhood and elderhood are ages of embodiment, times when the body's movements, not the mind's, are the chief source of and witness to soul. Maybe that's true in between too.