AUGUST – Coming and Going
by Annette Schwalbe
My Body Map Story
Coming and Going
“Nothing ever remains the same. The seasons come and go. Past, present and future are constantly reconfigured, and I am always moving, too. Yet, the comings and goings are tied to each other in cycles that I know deep down.
I have created my body map over the course of one year, from September 2014 to August 2015, trailing the full cycle of Seasons of a Woman.
It is November and I see the leaves fall off the tree. I imagine their rustling sound as they gather on the ground. I remember the sound of the brown paper when I lay down in September to be traced. I lay on my back, my whole body in a curved shape like a bow, taut. One knee up and foot firmly grounded. The minute I got up from the floor to look at my outline it seemed to flip around: what I saw was my back. I had turned, the leg and foot now in mid-air, and I was leaving.
Into Thin Air
Winter has come and I am nursing a ruptured Achilles tendon exactly in the place on my body map where leg seems to vanish into thin air away from my right foot. How could this have been marked on paper two months before it happened? Two months in which I had been fascinated by my outline, looked at it, but didn’t touch it. Now immobilised by injury I start working on my map.
I keep it all in white. Frosted, soft, ethereal. I print with fallen feathers and bones as I put to rest my responsibilities as a therapist and let go what had become too much. Often I feel dizzy: What is it that I am turning towards? What if there is nothing and it is just a tale of loss? But as I reinforce my outline on paper, layer upon layer, I can feel my skin keeping me warm in the wintry cold.
To Land Back on Familiar and New Ground
I feel completely in step with spring. It is April, my tendon has healed well and I am walking again. I sense the rising sap within – how could I forget to trust it? I have decided to leave what has been my place of work for the past 6 years. It has become too small and too far from home. Two hands appear above my head on my body map. I feel received and blessed, and I know now what I am moving to: to join hands with more women. Together, we will ease back into life that which had been lost by injury to the feminine in our world. Body Mapping remains my path, the ground is new and bigger.
In the bright light of summer I look at the bird’s nest on my body map: a wound, an opening, now a home. The swallow is my namesake: ‘Schwalbe’ means swallow in German. It is a migratory bird, it comes and goes. She travels between different worlds according to the seasons. Summer is my time of homecoming. It is also the season in which I was born.
This is when I step out and forward with renewed purpose. The past is not forgotten: the sole of my foot carries the ashes, marks of blood and imprints of past ground. The new life tumbles from my head and clothes me with foliage. I don’t need to grab or hold onto anything. My hands are free, they tingle. Right now they are still at my side. But they tingle with anticipation: to reach out and forward to meet who wants to move with me.