The blowing snow brightens the blue sky, the color of the heart of glaciers. No pawprints mar that white expanse. Birds fluff in hidden hollows; the deer crouch behind the wall of pines. This white and this blue are the standards of death, fluttering on a blade-like wind that brings the -12 temperature down to -30.
It’s a good time to contemplate rest, because this sort of weather forces it.
It’s a hard lesson overall, for me. I’m a bit of a yang personality — sunlight and brightness, activity and motion. A day that I’m not soaked in sweat is a wasted day. As a result, I’ve landed myself with an array of complicated injuries involving my left leg — likely involving my sciatic nerve and various foot ligaments, as well as my piriformis and sundry parts.
Perhaps it’s poetic that it’s my left side, my yin side, the dark side of the mountain. The lunar, the restful — the side of myself that I always ignore.
I ignored it when it twinged, running anyway, justifying to myself that the bruise-like feeling in my heel would abate with the correct form. In turn, my body tried to protect my heel, damaging the muscles in my hip. Now I’ve consigned myself to yoga — and tweaked my right wrist doing too many arm balances. Because I’m yang, because I always need to be soaked with sweat to earn my keep. Because I just don’t rest.
This upcoming week, I’ll give my primary care provider a ring and ask for a referral. I’m pretty good on fixing most injuries, but this is a tad complicated because it involves more than one muscle group and a major nerve. I want to heal up the right way, and be able to run again without pain in a few months’ time. But that’s going to take the dreaded concept of rest.
We joke that “rest is for the dead.” But in truth, it’s for the living; without it, we run out of vital energy and our bodies cannot repair. Without silence, our ears ring with constant noise. We do not value sleep until we cannot function, and we do not value rest until we break. Our culture is a yang culture overall: turned outwards, sparkling and bright. Spiritually, we effuse over the values of enlightenment and ignore the needed silences and peace of endarkenment.
Rest turns noise into music. Without rests, there is merely a constant wall of shifting sound. The spaces between words create their meaning. The spaces between the stones allow the water to flow. And so it is for ourselves.
I’ve determined the revive the concept of Sunday sabbath — an odd concept for a Pagan, but a good one. A day to rest from the yang world, and focus on the yin, the shadows of the mountain, the flow of water and spirit. And yes, a day to catch up with my blog. One of the reasons I have been lax with blogging is because I’m always so busy exercising, not only during the work week but during the weekend as well.
Like a lot of yang folks, I run in my worn tracks (pun intended), following patterns. These are the days I run; these are the days I do yoga (always vinyasa), or aikido. Well, time to schedule a rest in there, even from yoga — at least one day a week, and perhaps more if that’s what it takes to get me fixed.
Running injuries — however nasty and painful in daily life — are a minor ailment. I’m off to see my mother-in-law today, who is in the midst of cancer treatment and all the illness and debility that brings. She, too, never seemed to enjoy rest, taking pride in the constant round of work and busy-ness, in her sheer endurance. Now, that round has faltered and rest is what remains — stillness, the last of Gabrielle Roth’s Five Rhythms, which brings you back to your breath and the space that is yourself.
Injuries and illness are a pain in the ass — sometimes, literally so. But they are also teachers.