Not a book review

I love days like today. It’s windy, raining to sleet, the coldest day in Victoria this year. A perfect day to be close to the fire and snug down with a book. I am book tragic. I inherited my love of books and reading from my mother and grandmother. The downside of this is I see so many books that inspire me, give me that beautiful gut churn of motivational dreaming and imagination and possibilities and food for heart and mind expansion, that I start many and finish few. I used to feel guilty about this, about having a tower of book beside the bed (okay, towers of books beside the bed, beside the couch, on my work desk, samples on my kindle) that I dip in and out of depending on my mood. Now I just allow myself to pick and choose as I need to on the day, in the moment.

But recently I did finish a book – I read it over 3 evenings in bed when I really should have already been asleep. It has a winning combination of horses, Mongolia, coming of age, poetry and philosophy, adventure and being with nature. RoughMagic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race is a new release by the youngest and first female winner of a badass competition called the Mongol Derby (thisyear’s iteration is running as I type). What really hooked me was the author’s response to the Mongolian steppe and her languaging of that. It seemed to me that the steppe demanded a review of self for her, an experience the same soil, in the same terrain, demanded of me. Her words took me right back to those wide open spaces that stare right back at you, the tight ancientness of the mountains, places that exist beyond their own histories and just are.

Being someplace else, someplace harsh and beautiful and ugly and surreal asks who are you? Who are you to be here? Who are you being here? Who are you when you are not here? If approached, these questions will cut through layers of enculturation, domestication, socialisation to reveal  more essential parts of ourselves. What makes us tick, what truly motivates us, what stops us from doing the things we want to be doing, and why? Why do we allow ourselves to be stopped, side-tracked, distracted?

These are the kinds of questions I am asking myself when I give a Shiatsu treatment. I ask them of myself – who am I when I giving Shiatsu, being Shiatsu? Who is this person I am offering Shiatsu to? Why are they really here? How are the years of enculturation, domestication, socialisation inhabiting the body, mind and soul of this person that they ended up on my Shiatsu mat in my practice space? Ibecome a landscape of questioning and self-awareness during the ritual acts of Shiatsu, for myself and the person on the mat.

So this book, that I read cover to cover, reminded me of this. Reminded me of the investigative work I have done in the valleys, steppes and desert of Mongolia, on a plane flying over deep waters and mountains higher than I have ever seen, as I walk through customs being screened and scanned for compliance, of returning home somehow altered in ways that cannot be spoken. This book reminded me of how all of this, I bring to 75 minutes of Shiatsu with another, for myself and for them. And now I bring the depths of that book, of a young woman’s experience of coming to know herself, to the Shiatsu mat also, in ways that emanate from my cells and structure that cannot be spoken but only read.

Gobi Desert 2019

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