In college I studied psychology. I had known the word id for a long time. I’d learned it playing Scrabble as a kid. If you were stuck with no moves, it was good to know that id was a word. At least the d was three points. If you could get it onto a pink triple letter square, you could salvage your turn with that one little word.
Then in psych 101 of course we learned Freud. I found out the id I’d imagined as a cheerful, helpful little thing was actually quite a mess of a guy.
Hungry and horny, he split his life between expensive dinner dates and naps on the couch, belching and farting and calling for take-out.
Nowadays we punish that id with diets and Crossfit. We keep his bad self in line with our Fitbits. We live in fear he’ll get out and cause chaos.
He’ll have weapons, like bacon, wine, Netflix, or Tinder. We fight him hard. If he escapes, there’s payback at the gym and shame at Jenny Craig.
Are you tired of that battle? Here’s an idea. Get to know your id. Quit making him sleep outside. You might start to like him.
My id’s name is Rose. Turns out she’s a girl, a girl of many faces. She’s a tie-died grandma still doing yoga. She’s an auntie dancing with the kids at a wedding. (Though she gets out of the way if they start with that twerking.) She’s a strong tan rock climber with muscle-y thighs. She’s a teen in her prom dress, spiking the punch. She is crinkly and ancient with sand in her hair and scrappy bare feet.
Rose is awesome. I love Rose.
I don’t control Rose. Nope, instead I cajole her to come out. In the mornings before my to-do list starts crowding her out, I sit quietly breathing, asking for Rose.
Hi Rose, are you there? What do you want? How are you feeling today? Sometimes her answers surprise me.
This morning I wondered aloud why she didn’t want Zumba or those new qigong exercises I love so much. Those are Rose things, I said, and I asked her why not today.
(Have you ever wondered why you don’t do the things you know are good for you? That you actually like once you get started, but still can’t find the motivation to begin?)
Her answer was simple, though I wouldn’t have guessed it. Today she wanted the beach before everything else. She just wants to lie in the sand. And not on a blanket, right in the wet sand at the end of the waves. She wants the sun warming her skin and no sun block. (Really Rose? Yup, at least for a few minutes.) She doesn’t always make sense, but she’s usually right so I’m learning to trust her.
Maybe our uncontrolled bodies aren’t like Freud’s gross wanker guy. Maybe they’re more like Rose, enchanting and sure, with fresh flirty thoughts about living and love. That we ignore.
I get Freud’s point about controlling destructive instincts. But what if those unruly behaviors were once just harmless requests like Rose’s. That we ignored till she got pissed.
Who is your body? What does she want? If you want to meet her, just sit down and breathe.
Breathing is an easy way to meet the body. Watch your breath, as they say. It’s simple yet profound.
Before you start, ask out loud to speak to your body, your id, your unbridled passion, Rose. Whatever you call it, ask three times.
Try different ways of asking. Some words will sound better than others. When you’re done asking, just breathe. Don’t ask anymore. Don’t try to mediate. Don’t try to figure out who is your Rose.
Of course your mind will do all those things. Let him. But you watch your breath, no matter what. That’s it. Then do it tomorrow and the next day and the next. One day she’ll come. Take it slow and have patience. One day she’ll come.