A good thing about Ginna? None of that “Come on, you can do it” crap. Of course we will do some of “it.” I pay for an hour of guided physical activity for the sake of endorphins and serotonin. This intermittent lunging will have to do even though vigorous exercise actually works better.
But I’m not sure I want Ginna in this current welter of confusion and sadness. Depression doesn’t need reasons. Could just say it’s chemical or blame it on Dad’s genes.
I’m lucky there is comfort and trust with Ginna. Often between lunges, when neither of us is especially depressed, we share our very different lives. And despite our differences, her youth, my age, her one young son, my three grown sons, her fairly recent arrival from Bolivia and my very long teaching career on the west coast, we have developed a rapport. She says our relationship is like hamaca, (hammock in English) in which we are held and comfortable, trusting the other. I feel the same.
But I can’t hang out with Ginna all the time. She is responsible for muscles and joints, not confusion and sadness. Plus she is trying to build her clientele, and I can’t be endlessly exercising to make it worth her while. In addition to the hamoca we have together, I need my own place of safety, of comfort, and trust.
In those moments, with partial sun streaking Clement and 15th Ave., with the sounds of digging up the street and the backward beep, beep beep of road maintenance, I don’t want to think or feel, just move and move, allowing calf muscles to ache and my sore shoulder to unstiffen.
For the year has had me deep in thought and feelings. This December, a daughter-in-law gets hit by a car and dies instantly. A grandson goes back to the Philippines from San Francisco. In February, my oldest son packs his pitbulls in the car, loads up his computers and leaves his wife (and me) to live on the East Coast. About the same time in February, I opt out of a relationship to see a therapist rather than travel to Mexico with my girl friend on an Olivia cruise she paid for. Lots of confusion, sadness, and loss this year.
Wanting that place of silence and safety, I turn to meditation. As a beginner, each day I set the timer on my meditation phone app to 20 minutes until the muffled singing of the sangha bowl says times up. I came to meditation through a link to the website of Insight Meditation teacher, Tara Brach in Bethesda, Maryland. Tara’s Dharma talks and meditations can be listened to at no cost. I’ve downloaded all the podcasts.
In one of her talks, entitled “Equanimity,” she shares the concept of Querencia. It’s a Spanish word that connotes a haven and a sanctuary, a place of renewal and safety; it is the place in the bullring where the bull goes to gather his strength, to be renewed. And it is the matador’s job to keep the bull out of that spot.
Multiple times I listened to “Equanimity,” wanting to hear again and again that word so I could begin to truly understand querencia as a place where I too could feel secure, a place within from which I might draw strength of character.
It’s a powerful concept. And at this time in my own life, more than ever, I seek a place in the self where I know I am safe. Resting in that haven, I can allow feelings of sadness and fear. In silence I can accept that my son and four-year old granddaughter will cope with their loss together, even as I cope with mine. And I can breath into kindness for my daughter-in-law’s mother who has lost her only daughter and not judge or compete with her for “baby” time.
Thus meditating, either sitting or walking, I experience querencia and strengthen my intentions to make relationships in which all are held in hamaca. I have yet to tell Ginna about adding querencia to her word, hamaca. Next time, between lunges, I can tell her.