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.
We’re trained early to “not want that,” and “not expect that” and to “be normal” and “don’t be weird” because our folks and teachers think we’ll feel better if we live below our hopes and inside the herd. You know, get real like they all have, be like everyone else, stay inside the tribe and be as normal as you possibly can.
Except”¦we love the people who innovate, dream, and risk. We love those who strayed far from the herd. We love the Elon Musks, the Stephen Hawkings, and the Oprahs who break the mold and who not just hoped – but who dared it all, declared themselves worthy and special and then struck out from the tight corral of “normal.”
“You aren’t them,” we’re told over and over. “You aren’t special. So don’t expect to do what they did. Tuck your head under and stay in the pack. Modify yourself. Don’t stand out.”
Susan has never felt special like Oprah or amazing like Elon. She also doesn’t give an F about most people who aren’t on the same page as her. Sure, she’ll squeeze herself into the right proportions to fit into, say, the medical establishment that employs her, but they don’t change her at all. She weekends by protesting with signs at the side of the road, then gets mad at the people who organize the protest. No one is safe, because she’s not fitting anyone’s bill. Inside, she thinks everyone should just Be Good to Each Other. Which I happen to agree with.
You know what I get most from Susan each week? It’s not the lymph drainage, or even the intuitive healing. It’s the reminder that I need to be myself – the whole shebang – because editing down and modifying myself does utterly no good to anyone, especially me.
No one will care, in the end, if I towed the line. They will care, though, if I share what I’m feeling and discovering – if I create connection, if I remind them we’re all just perfect.
Which I guess brings me to my point: Like Susan, you are perfect. You may be flawed, messed up, or be living below your potential in so many ways. But here you are: alive and ready to take on another day.