Shed the Husk

July 18, 2009

In Buddhist philosophy, the tree and its seed are one in the same.  The entire tree in all its glory exists in the minutia of the seed, and though it takes time for the tree to arrive at its full expression visibly, it already fully exists.

However, in my mind, inversely, the tree does not contain the entire seed.  In most plants, at some point in the growing process there is a tiny part which falls off the pod and degrades into the earth – the husk of the seed is shed.

Of course, it could be argued that the nutrient from the husk is used by the tree, blah, blah, but for my purposes just assume that in the direct growth experience of the tree, the husk leaves the party.

I think husk shedding is my main order of business these days.  Yesterday, I had what’s called Marma Therapy – an ancient Indian accu-pressure practice.  Be warned: to call Marma a “massage” is like calling surgery a light scratch.  You know when you get normal body work and they hit a sensitive spot, and then sort of move over it and you go, “oo! aaaaah…”?  Marma goes to that spot and stays. And presses. Hard. Like, real hard.  Like burning, deeply painful hard, and then you go “AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH FUCKIN A…. JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE OH GOD….” and then, if you’re me, you sob uncontrollably.

The sobbing, at least partially, was not from pain.  The sobbing was from 28 years of husk being shed; and apparently I hold my husk in my hamstrings.

My husk is in the shape of a little girl who knew she was “overweight” from the time she was four or five, and had tits – big tits – not long thereafter.  My husk also has this chicken-and-egg thing going on between hating her body and being afraid of her sexuality (thanks, Catholicism). So the fear of sexuality kept the weight coming, and the weight kept the sexuality away, and the fear of the sexuality kept the weight coming…

And coming.  Until at 19 she was 5’1″ and just shy of 200 pounds.  And DEFINITELY not getting any, unless you count making out with gay men.  And I don’t.

But the damage was done so long before then.

The damage happened when she was put in gymnastics class in a leotard and was afraid of going upside down so she got stuck on the uneven bars with all the other thin little girls watching and giggling.

The damage was done when the doctor showed her the “percentile” chart every year and noted how high up she was.

The damage was done when she had to wear undershirts in the dead of August or else the other kids would make fun of her chest.

The damage was done when year after year after year all the boys thought she was such a great friend and no one wanted to kiss her.

I know I’m not that little girl anymore, but the tree is still the same.  Obama, in Dreams From My Father refers to, “That constant, honest portion of myself, a bridge between my future and my past.”  That’s the tree.  All that damage that LittleMe experienced is the husk.  And that husk has built and built and built until my legs can’t stand to be touched, and my neck spasms regularly.

I think I understand why so many people love butterflies, no  matter how trite the old metamorphosis-chrysalis metaphor might be: we work so hard to restructure this plant, to release our husks from our bodies, it’d be so awesome to just pop into a little den, wait a couple days and re-emerge fully expressed.

I love that little girl.  I’ve developed a lot of compassion for her suffering.  But she’s gotta take a hike. Or at least take a nap. I got growing to do.



  1. That little girl provided some delicious nutrients for the sexy tree that’s growing out of her. Also, your grownup insights make me curious about emotionally invasive massage therapy.

  2. Proust felt that our greatest suffering would lead to our greatest strength. But generally, our early pain acts more as an open wound than a scar. Do you feel like yoga helps deal with trauma? I imagine that radically forcing us to redefine who we are (we are not our thoughts, our past, our bodies…) and helping us breath through difficult moments must help. Yet my intuition is that yoga teaches us to sit with ourselves and sit with our pain, observe it, make peace with it, and I wonder if that’s deep enough. Does yoga in some sense treat symptoms (albeit deep symptoms that prevent worse external symptoms)? Does yoga offer acceptance and a perspective that we’re all the same, when what’s really needed is a deep, true love of oneself?

    • Well, first off, where our bodies suffer injuries, scar tissue tends to make those the strongest areas in our body. I’m not convinced the same occurs emotionally, but I like the metaphor. The key is it has to be fully healed, and complete healing takes a long time. Isn’t making peace with pain moving on from it? I mean, if you let it go and let it be, it can change just like all things.

      In general, my particular suffering is most definitely helped by yoga. I grew up hating my body and thinking I was a sinner. Yoga – specifically the Tantric lineage – states that everyone is fundamentally perfect. Whether or not I can believe that at all times is another issue, but just hearing that world view as opposed to the one with which I grew up is healing for me.

      One of the main limbs of yoga is precisely what you’re suggesting: Svadiyaya – self-study. The idea is that with self-study you realize your commonality to all things and your connection to a universal field of intelligence – whether you buy THAT or not is up to you.

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