A moving story

  • Posted on October 19, 2013 at 7:24 pm

This week on Facebook, a friend shared a video about some whale conservationists who came upon an apparently dead humpback. It was just lying very still in the water near their boat, but then it blew. Cautious investigation revealed that it was completely entangled in fishing net and lines, its tail fin and both pectorals bound, so it could not swim. It was in straightjacket of nylon mesh, with no means to free itself. But it was alive, so the conservationists needed to release it. A humpback of course is an extremely powerful animal, and they could not communicate to make the creature understand their intentions. How do you make a whale stay still until it is not just partly free, but entirely so? (You can’t even do it with a child!)

It was a very moving story because, in the course of hours, a diver was able to cut the mesh away. Part-way through the whale did swim off and feel some limited freedom, but its powerful tail was still enmeshed. It returned, and allowed the helpers to continue until it was completely freed. For an hour after that it stayed near the boat, giving an exuberant display of breaching and tail slaps, and everything else a whale does when it is enjoying itself. Was this just a ‘whoopee-freedom!’ behaviour, or a way of saying thank you? Of course we can’t really know, but animal behaviour without our kind of language can be sophisticated and highly intentional. This week we also learned on the news that marmosets, for example, will talk but never interrupt each other. We have much to learn about our apparently superior selves.

Bound to be cut loose

I too am lying in the water right now, feeling very constrained, and at a point of being cut loose. My mail has already ben redirected to a new address, my Internet connection has been terminated, my main email address has gone forever, I am surrounded by cardboard boxes, nothing is accessible, and I am yet to exchange contracts on the flat I am buying. I am lying in trust that, as I have been provided for over these last few years (I think I was too blind to notice before that), everything will work out just fine, and that I shall not be homeless at the end of the month in just over a week!

It feels almost like a necessary thing. All my email clutter that had built up has gone. Yes, I must reregister my logins with all sorts of things, from buying flowers and ordering clothes online, to website redirects, annual accounts and so on. I hope my memory and imagination are good! But in a way, it is a cutting loose from an interim stage where my email address reflected the year I came to understand myself (andie2010@). I am even unable to upload this blog until I visit an Internet-enabled café or a friend, or go into work. I can’t lookup addresses and directions to places, and email is awkward on my little mobile. I am in some ways electronically free from distraction and all the unimportant falling leaves. But I can still write, and I can focus on packing up my last things. It may be my last weekend in this current refuge.

Last night in dance I had a lovely time, sharing movement with several people, feeling really expressive – until the last piece of music, which was very poignant and clear: ‘not going home’. I can’t remember what the song was, but it cut me down completely, and I just could not dance my way through it. This week my house was sold and others moved in. I shall never again return to a place that was home. This is more than moving house together, from one home to another, as always before. This is a complete cutting away of shared space, for good. And I mean that in both ways. But I can’t celebrate this by leaping in the water, because it is a profound sadness: that it is all because I was never loved for myself in those spaces anyway. All my memories are now tempered by that knowing.

I wonder how bound I was before, with all that accumulated clutter? How bound was I, knowing there was something essentially and innately wrong but unknown, that led me into being so afraid of what I was, and of how tenuous that love I knew, really was? I think I was enmeshed a long time ago. Better, I thought, to be loved with pectorals bound to my sides, than to be free in a vast and lonely ocean.

New owner

At the end of the dance workshop this week, I expressed that I feel for the first that I really own my body. The context? These workshops are about anatomy, about corporeal awareness, about fluidity and connectedness. And in asking where the group needed focus (for example we have worked with the fluid in joints, and with breathing), someone asked for attention to the sexual and reproductive organs. I’ve said before how my innermost awareness is of organs in my body that simply are not there. I will have my restorations in due course, but how can I fully explore this in a way that an unambiguous man or woman can? I am happy to disclose my gender issues with this group – after all, I must be obvious, even if acceptable and welcomed, which I am. If someone suggested I work with what I do have, that would be every bit as psychologically threatening as being asked to wear a tie (or explain why not) in a brass band. So what do I do? Cut the net away and work with the body I do know, imagined, felt and real in equal measure?

What I do feel right now, is that I have the opportunity of discovering and building a new life, providing I am happy that others are cutting me free, and that I am happy to celebrate in an ocean that may not be as empty as I have feared. And that means a new ownership of what is uniquely mine, not what is seen on the outside.


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