Hope is roving gypsy
With laughter on her tongue,
And the blue sky and sunshine
Alone, can keep her young;
And year by year she lingers
Under a budding tree
To join the red-wings’ chorus:
~ Dora Reed Goodale, 1902
The blackbird has long been associated with omens and mysticism. Its color, alone, has evoked both fear and promise. Although called a blackbird, only the males are black. Females usually have a streaky, brown plumage.
… Another variation of the blackbird is the red-winged blackbird. This bird has a red path on its wings, with a dash of yellow as well. These colors connect this bird to the level known as Binah in the Qabalistic Tree of Life. This is the level associated with the Dark Mother and the primal feminine energies. This bird has ties to all of the creative forces of Nature.
… If the blackbird has come into your life as a totem, you will open to new surprises and to a new understanding of the forces of Nature as they begin to migrate into your life.
~ Ted Andrews, Animal Speak
Other meanings for the red-winged blackbird include speaking your truth, being firm but kind-hearted, and drawing out your inner beauty. Red-winged blackbirds are, in some places, associated with the return of spring. They flock together by the thousands, hundreds of thousands, blending in with other subspecies, during the winter months, teaching us about unity and strength in numbers.
Blackbirds have been a prominent feature around here lately. Since I last mowed the lawn, we’ve had small gatherings of them come to eat whatever it is they eat after the lawn has been mowed. Crows, too, have shown up a lot.
One of the things about lockdown is that it gives a person plenty of time to mull over various things. I’ve been thinking a lot about our culture/society and the subject of body image. It was something that came up for me last week that I meant to bring up as a generalized point in a discussion, but it’s such a loaded issue for me that I ended up making it rather personal. And is IS personal because this is something I need to work on. However.
It is also cultural. Our culture (and the yoga culture) puts out messaging about what a beautiful body (or a yoga body) should look like. Even though bodies come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, there is a body type that is considered the Ideal. It has little to do with fitness, although the messaging includes fitness as part of it. I don’t want to spend too much time on this aspect of things because there are better writers out there who have written reams on this subject. Just Google “diet culture” and I’m sure you’ll find an essay or two thousand.
Size and shape are only part of it. Aging fits in here, too. Women in particular tend to become somewhat invisible after a certain age. I’ve been sitting with these things, body type and aging, watching how they play out in my head and my life. Something interesting has begun to rise up and ask to be noticed.
In order for my story to make any sense, it’s important to note that I do not see my body as it is. I have lost a lot of weight over the past 8-10 years. I lost it slowly but surely. Then the pandemic came along. If we stay isolated for much longer, I will have the dubious honor of having lost nearly 90 lbs. overall (a 12 lb. loss, so far, since we went on lockdown). It seems this type of stress does not result in the usual stress eating for me. That, in and of itself, is kind of interesting, but also not the point. The point is that I am not as overweight as I used to be. In fact, I am not that far from the weight my doctor would like me to attain.
Yesterday morning, as I was getting up off the floor after meditating, I glanced up to see my faint reflection in the glass of the patio doors. I noticed my legs first, and it seemed to me they were normal legs. “Hmmmm,” I thought. Then I looked down at my legs. They were the usual fat legs. I looked back at the reflection and my legs had become normal again. In fact, my entire body looked to be relatively normal, not gigantic at all. How strange and weird and wonderful. It was proof of what I already knew, but wasn’t seeing. There is a disconnect between my mind and my body, between the past and the present. I still see myself as fat. It was a realization that unless my mind catches up with the reality of the situation, it wouldn’t matter how much weight I’ve lost, or continue to lose.
If you’ve had any issues at all with weight, you probably recognize this as body dysmorphia or some such label. What really interests me about it is the dichotomy between reality and the illusions our minds create as a result of our patterning and conditioning. Some of that patterning and conditioning comes as a consequence of our own behaviors and thoughts. Some we acquire through the messaging of our families, friends, and society at large. You could, if you wanted, apply this to something other than weight or body image issues.
How to repattern or reprogram? Well. I’m pondering that. That’s part of yoga, a repatterning/retraining of the mind through movement, meditation, self study, and a host of other things. I have some ideas. Nothing concrete enough to share at the moment. I might get back to you on the subject again sometime in the future.
And what, you might ask, does all this have to do with red-winged blackbirds? Maybe nothing. But maybe there is something I could learn from them in regards to beauty, inner and outer.
Thank you for visiting with me today. Let’s meet at the dock for sunset. I never did get out to the Point to see if they changed the closing time. The last time I tried to go out there, it was rather crowded. I figure it’s probably best to give people time to settle when it comes to being able to access the parks again. Sunset is scheduled for 8:05 PM. Wow. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that the sunsets were two to three hours earlier. It’s breezy and cool today. A jacket would be a good idea.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. ♥♥♥
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,416) A cooler than usual spring. I’m enjoying it while I can. We’ll be in the mid-80’s by Friday or Saturday. 1,417) The company of trees and birds. 1,418) Red-winged blackbirds. 1,419) M, always. 1,420) The floral scent wafting through the air lately. All sorts of flowers are blooming now.