Sometimes I wonder how much personal information to post on a blog. My original idea was to allow my work to give direction to the writing, and document the round of seasons in this particular part of the world. It’s from my point of view, of course, but not so much about me.
That said, I can rarely resist exploring a tangent. So this topic is not really about fieldwork and homework, but about the work that goes on inside one’s self. I am at home recovering from “takotsubo cardiomyopathy”, a temporary heart ailment that put me in the hospital for five days. With all the high-tech stuff that doctors have, they aren’t completely sure why it happens and how it works. They are pretty sure that I will have a full recovery, but it’s going to take some time. I am really tired a lot of the time. I’m taking a mishmash of drugs, and am on a strict cardiac diet. I am not to go to work, and need to avoid stress. I am not to exercise, except for flat walking, and need to stop as soon as my body tells me to.
In The Practice of the Wild, Gary Snyder says that our bodies are wild. We don’t need conscious thought to make it breathe, or keep the heart beating. Since I have discovered that my heart insists on its own unique rhythm, I can imagine the wildness inside my own body. I feel it. I live it. There are rivers and mountains and islands inside the body, a whole landscape that my ego has no influence over.
Yet there are subtle relationships between the wildness of the body and the wildness of the mind. The heart is the metaphorical home of our emotions. The emotional heart insists on itself too, makes itself heard over the rationality of the mind. When we don’t listen, our physical heart may do something to get our attention. The cardiologists say they don’t entirely understand how the heart works. I believe in the reality of that mystery.
So when I sit down to draw how this strange new situation feels, my totemic bird carries a heart in a strong direction. The destination is off the paper and I have no idea where my heart and I will end up.