The muse is strong around you, Padawan

As I’m lying on the massage table, the woman who treats my lymphedema each week leans down and whispers to me, “The muse is strong around you right now.”

I immediately think “the Force” and then remind myself I’m not a Jedi.

It’s the writing muse, she tells me. And Susan is pretty good at this. She maneuvers the lymph out of my arm every Thursday, and she slips in whatever else I need to know as I’m lying face down in the hospital room on the papery sticky table.

Sometimes she sings to me while she works. Sometimes she does myofascial release, which basically means she grabs two parts of my skin and stretches it as far as it will go.

I think about why I’m going to see her every week, and part of me knows that, while yeah, I’m keeping my lymph moving and my arm from swelling, I also just want to see what else might happen.

Sometimes she gets an intuitive message for me. Sometimes I get a message for her. We swap hits and guesses. We talk politics, and about family. And then maybe she’ll touch part of me gently and ask if this is the part that’s holding fear.

“Yes,” I gulp. And then we both think about what it would be like if that part of me had no more fear.

Susan is not in your normal demographic. She wears her hair long, straight, and gray, cusses like a sailor, slips around the massage table in her granny pants and tennis shoes, is one of about ten children, and is easily twenty years my senior. She is perfect and right in every way.

She’s perfect because she really doesn’t care if other people get her or not. This is why she’s a soul sister. I don’t need other people to get me either, or at least, not as much as I used to need it.

I’m thinking about just how awesome it is to be freed from What People Think.

We live in boxes – boxes that shape the walls of our houses, and boxes that shape the walls of our minds. The most evil boxes are the ones that shape the walls of our expectations.

IDGAF

I know I’m pretty much useless when, instead of getting work done, I’m folding clothes.

It’s 11 a.m. and my workday should be in full swing. But I work from home, and so instead I’m folding laundry and checking my emails every five minutes looking for something exciting. Nothing exciting comes in.

I spot the stack of old financial papers that need shredding. I’ve let them languish by the shredder for months. Yes, months. I know something is really awry because now pulverizing that stack through the shredder is looking really good and I spend the next hour doing it.

Hello, Rebellion. How are you today?

“I don’t want to! You can’t make me. I don’t care if I should. No.”

My name is No . . . my sign is No.

A Types, overachievers, controllers, and those of us who generally Get Shit Done know this feeling and it scares the heck out of us. It’s called IDGAF. (You can work that acronym out.)

IDGAF is your inner rebel, telling you she needs a break. Give her one. What’s so hard about that?

Oh, I know what’s hard: you’re going to lose control of your life for five or ten minutes, or maybe even half a day. Or if you really slack, maybe even . . . a week. And if you’re really, really screwed – a month. And of course the ultimate freak: forever.  You’ll be in IDGAF forever.

Because what if you never find your way out of IDGAF? What if you stop earning your income? What if your marriage that you’ve been propping up suddenly bores you? What if you stop to relax for one bald second and discover that you’re running on fumes and those fumes felt so real that you lived off them for ages?

Toilet woman

In the stall next to me, a woman is on her cell phone.

She’s booking an appointment. I can’t tell with whom. Is it nails? Her therapist? Her oncologist? Her voice echoes over the empty bathroom stalls.

I snap the paper toilet seat cover down and sit. This is really uncomfortable. I’m going to make pee noises. The woman in the stall next to me is chatting away.

I hesitate, then I get mad. She’s the one breaking the rules, I think, not me. I am going to pee as loud as I want.

When I get up to flush, I’m frozen again. I’m thinking how awkward it must be for the person on the other end of her phone to hear all the noises of a public bathroom. I’m actually thinking about the feelings of the person the woman beside me is not thinking about at all. This is ridiculous.

I flush. It’s really loud.

As I’m washing my hands I realize that I have just seen what happens when you break a social norm. It’s not embarrassing the woman next to me to talk to a stranger while using the bathroom. But it’s embarrassing me. Because I go around thinking that everyone feels like me: I would never call someone from inside a public toilet stall. Ever. I think that everyone else thinks like me, too.

Until someone snaps that idea in half.