This is what I’m most afraid of.
The skilled surgeons who will rearrange my body have told me that I will no longer have feeling in my chest, and in a good portion of my abdomen. They will sever the nerves, disconnecting the pathways of sensation, They will remove the cancer, and leave me with scars.
When it is over, given time, I will look fantastic in the new clothes I will have to buy. I will look good as new, and you won’t even know that I am numb.
But I will be.
I’ll be numb, and this lack of feeling is what terrifies me most of all.
But the other night, while I was contemplating my impending surgery, and the numbness that will follow, I heard that Voice of Knowing speak into my soul.
This is what it said.
“Your body will be numb, but that isn’t the tragedy. The true tragedy is that you have let your soul become numb. You have let the pathways to your spirit wither and you no longer feel the way that you were meant to FEEL. You are less ALIVE than you should be. You are numb, already.”
And with a nod I acknowledged that she was right.
That Voice, she is a tricky one. Sometimes she croons whispered words of encouragement, like a mother comforting her newborn. And other times she’s Clint Eastwood in “Million Dollar Baby” and she talks to me when I’m between rounds, when I’m on my stool in the corner, bleeding from a blow that knocked the wind out of me and put me on my ass. (and mostly, that is exactly where I need to be, so I can sit down and learn a lesson.)
I’m sure that she speaks far more often than I listen.
But this time, I listened.
And I got the message loud and clear.
A numb soul is a far worse fate than some numb skin.
And just because I look just fine on the surface, doesn’t mean that I’m not broken and scarred underneath.
I am. Broken and scarred.
We all are.
And when your broken sometimes numb is a good place to be. Sometimes the trauma is so bad that numb is the only option at the time. And that’s ok. That’s a fine place to be. For a little while.
But that’s not the numb I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the lingering numbness. The kind that want’s to stick around. It goes tiptoeing along the perimeter of your spirit singing lullabies, and saying “Dont you worry about a thing!” and it carries a chisel, just to “take the edge off”. Smoothing things out so that it’s less messy, and not as sharp.
But pretty soon, the edges are so far gone that LIVING! has been replaced with just “getting through life”, and the colors and textures and tastes that make everything interesting are replaced by grey, flat, blandness.
If you are wrapped up in that kind of numb, let me repeat the words of wisdom being whispered to me.
I say, to both of us, this.
Fight with everything you have.
Numb is not an option.
We are meant to be ALIVE.
We are meant to be AWAKE. .
We are meant to be AWARE
We have a gazillion nerve endings, and a brain that can turn what we see, and what we hear, and the sensations on our skin into fuel for our souls. Into an elixir that cures the numbness.
Our bodies are sensitive to heat, and cold and to a soft breeze on our upturned face, and the frantic touch of a lover on organs that were made for no other reason than to bring us pleasure. We feel pain when we are injured and sick, and extacy when we make love, and both at the very same time when we give birth to our babies.
Our bodies are remarkable monuments to life, every single one of us. Spend a moment to check in with yours, and thank it for the job it’s doing. Take care of this wondrous machine, as if you were guarding a priceless treasure. Just breathing in and out, and having a heartbeat isn’t enough. We are meant for far more than that. We are meant to drink in the sensations of this life as if we were a four-year old with a juice box. When we get to the end, and this life is done, it should collapse in on itself, and we should know that have gotten every drop out of it.
Don’t let the numbness creep into your everyday life of endless routines. Never ending piles of laundry can keep you from getting muddy with your kids. Stacks of bills and paperwork can keep you from dropping a note to a friend. Having to cook every day can keep you from tasting the flavors that are all around you. Take the time to feed your senses as well as your stomach. Love on your family and friends with intention.
Love on yourself as if your LIFE depends on it.
Don’t let the numbness creep into the part of you that is outraged at injustice, and poverty and hunger and bigotry and hate. There seems to be so much of it, and it’s overwhelming, but you don’t have to save the world. Become aware of one need that you can do something about and then, do something about it.
We are meant to walk around with wonder and awe, starstruck by the beauty of our world. And when we see injustice or pain, or need, we are meant to feel it deeply to weep with pain and be moved into action. We are meant to Love fiercely, to LIVE with intensity, To FEEL with every fiber of out being.
It may be uncomfortable to be naked, to be raw, to offer up your body, your emotions and your energy to something bigger than you, but I’ll take being uncomfortable over being numb any day.
Numb is not an option.
Not when it comes to my soul.
As for my skin? Well, that part still terrifies me.
But I would rather feel the fear, than be numb.
Thanks, Lion. I needed that.