Thursday, April 7, 2016

Contemplating my Navel

This is the calm between storms in the process of publishing the book.  After a frenzied first three months of the year with editing details filling every free moment, suddenly things went quiet.  The designer sent a few questions my way initially, but other than some back and forth with the foreword, it has been out of my hands. I expect to have to do the final review any day now, but in the meantime I have been, as the title of this blog says, contemplating my navel.

Of course catching up on things like tax prep and phone calls has filled some of my time, but shifting from such busy-ness to relative quiet is a bit disconcerting.  I've had some time to check in with my Parts for their response to the hectic pace "we've" been keeping.  The level of vulnerability around expected public speaking and marketing demands has lifted somewhat, but continues to challenge. Still, I find myself a bit stuck in the realm of "navel-gazing." There's even a fancy word for this preoccupation; omphaloskepsis "from the Greek omphalos (naval) + skepsis (act of looking, examination), as an aid to meditation."  As we say at meditation group, everything is practice.

So the navel thing is real, that is to say, literal.  And while it may seem overly personal, it is on topic for this blog because it has to do with loss.  The naval, otherwise known as the umbilicus is a marker of our mammalian heritage.  The navel is actually the remainder of our initial source of nurturance, essentially the first scar we collect on our journey of survival.  It is the place where we were severed from our mother's body to become independent beings. Pretty heavy stuff for something colloquially know as a "belly-button."

In my case, I no longer have a navel.  Actually, there is a little gash on my belly - a place for lint to gather, where the tip of my little finger just barely fits - but its only purpose is to keep me from appearing to have emerged from a pod like an alien being.  My umbilicus is long gone.  That connection to my birth, my final physical bond to my mother, was eliminated along with my right breast during the reconstruction phase of my breast cancer surgery, 17+ years ago.  A small loss, minor in the face of what could have been, but a loss just the same. And all losses have a right to be grieved.

Perhaps this sense of loss is a result of reading and re-reading the passages of loss that are one aspect of Unkind Gifts' representation of trauma's ebb and flowing in my life.  Maybe it's an indication of how far I have come on my journey, so much so that the minor details are coming to the surface for attention.

Truth be told, I have missed that original umbilicus since the beginning. Now, 7 years after my mom's passing it just feels like one more lost connection to her.  I am fairly sure that had I not been fortunate to have that particular mother, there would never have been a book.  It is an homage to her influence on me that I got this far in the writing process.  Mom was always a reader and a writer.  She made me believe I had something important to say. If not for her, I might just be spending all my time omphaloskepting.

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