Monday, October 27, 2008

Matisse's Scissors

Dedicated to my coompañeros on the road. (you know who you are)

One definition of irony: Most of my adult life I have worked with others with disabilities, limitations, pain and uncooperative body parts assisting them through massage, exercise and rehabilitation. Now, I live with disability, limitation, pain and uncooperative body parts... Irony... she's a good friend of mine. We know each other intimately.

On this "Surviving Life-threatening Illness Road" I've met some special compañeros; fellow travelers who also know the challenges of moving forward "by hook and by crook." An adaptation of my "work" has been to assist them without ever placing my hands on them; to help them in understanding pain and help translate it's messages, how to find relief and how to live beyond the "cage" that pain and limitation can bring. Little lessons I've learned along the way...

Tonight's Class:
Sounds as if things are going well with your observations. There's definitely a place for denial I believe. But then there's also a place for paying attention. Neutral observation. That's what I was implying with rating pain with a number (1-10) and naming it's qualities. You, the wordsmith could have some fun with that: naming the qualities of the moment, the nuances, the adjectives. Otherwise we get caught in this group hypnosis of ->PAIN<-. I name it that because people have a collective agreement and response to pain. !!!->PAIN<-!!! : !!!->OWWW!<-!!! With all it's spikey hurt and fear. And then the worry.... There is all this collective, group pain that is all too easy to tap into - and then others look upon you with their own fear, worry and concern that's a lot about them and how your situation scares the crap outta them! Their genuine concern for you is there also, but neither will help us move forward. And that's what it's about, yes? Moving forward - always forward, by hook and by crook... persevering... and when we run low on perseverance, then out of sheer stubbornness. When we name pain's qualities (sharp, stabbing, throbbing, dull, weak, burning, ad infinitum...) and get to know it's nuances, it begins to have less of a hold over us. That simple. We start to notice it isn't necessarily 3-alarm !!!->PAIN<-!!! all the time. It fluctuates, has a rhythm, moves like a tide rising and receding. With observation comes an objectifying of the pain. It isn't us. And we are not it. It's only a sidebar. Yep, there's the other stuff: the losses, limitations, being robbed of energy and ability, but what is most important is to keep all that stuff as a sidebar to my Life, my real Life, the stuff that makes me - me; the joys, passions, dreams and relationships along with all the "other" real life stuff - the challenges, the "crap", the chores, the relationships <------(they get to be on both lists! Rewarding and challenging as they are). The pain, the discomfort, the ache and frustration??? Heh!!!! Not gonna let it take me down if I can help it. So I remind myself about Matisse sitting in his wheelchair at the end of his life with his scissors, no longer able to stand, no longer able to paint the way he once did. Instead, cutting shapes of color that began climbing his walls from his bed, and around the corner and down the hallway to the other rooms - eventually this style of work becoming his final masterpieces. All born out of his "inability." I have a beautiful photo of him: barefoot, kinda Santa-chubby, sitting in a wheelchair, large scissors in his hands, focused on cutting the next shape, scraps of paper cuttings strewn at his feet all around the wheels of his chair. Working passionately into his eighties. By hook and by crook.

You're made of the same.


"You see as I am obliged to remain often in bed because of the state of my health, I have made a little garden all around me where I can walk... There are leaves, fruits, a bird..." - Henri Matisse describing his bedroom/studio.


Sandi said...

Matisse's cut outs are really my favorites of all his works. They are so honest. I wake up each morning and try to move forward. On a good day, I stamp the pain and fear into my footprints.

el poquito said...

one foot in front of the other, eh Sandi? one foot in front of the other... i like the image of leaving the fear behind in the footprints...