Have you ever been sitting in an overheated room or car or airplane wearing too many layers? And when you get to where you can finally shed the excess, have you ripped off the heavy, damp garmets and exposed your skin to the cool air and felt so much lighter, and so relieved to be comfortable again? I had that experience just last night, walking back to our hotel from a wonderful dinner. When I got to the room, I ripped off my sweater and my shirt and flopped down on the bed, experiencing, for just a moment, delicious relief.
Then it occurred to me that I craved an even deeper level of relief. I wished I could unzip my skin and peel off the extra layers of me the way I removed my clothes.
Being here in San Francisco, where we need to walk everywhere, is a challenging experience. When I'm at home, I can ride my bike, which doesn't hurt or stress my body overmuch. Here, I have to walk, which, in addition to the strain of moving my heavy body through space, also aggravates my ankle problem and until this morning my gout as well. So I'm not exactly a happy camper walking around, as much as I may enjoy being outside in a beautiful, interesting place. The night we arrived, as I forced myself to walk along to dinner and back, I was feeling exhausted (it was 3am, body time) and disheartened by how hard it felt, but from somewhere deep inside I mustered up the will to mutter to Carol, "I am what I am."
"I Am What I Am" is the name of a very sweet song by Roy Sakuma, a teacher and ukulele advocate in Hawaii, who wrote it to inspire and encourage people, especially kids, to love themselves as they are. I first came across the song this past winter in Aunty Marjie's ukulele class, where Aunty Marjie shared how she feels that the song is an anthem for her as she joyously walks her own path in life.
When I said that to Carol the other night, she very sweetly replied, "And I love what you are." I wasn't feeling love for myself at that moment. At least not for my physical self. Yet if I can't love my body and treat it with compassion, I won't be able to do what I need to get healthy. It's a conundrum.
And so today, I'll go out into the warm sunshine again and walk the city, wishing I could be flying along on my bike, trying to make peace with the effort and the discomfort and the struggle that are so much a part of what I am right now.
I am what I am. Right now. In this moment.
A hui hou.