Henry David Thoreau said “heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads,” meaning not only that the literal heavens—space and stars and galaxies—surround us, but also that if we’re to find any heaven it will be here, wherever we are. My “here” is hard, and for long stretches it has been difficult in the extreme. The title of this blog is a play on Thoreau’s words. It refers to finding the good life in a hard place. Of all the pain that I’ve had, which is a lot, the pain in my feet and lower legs has been some of the worst—flesh-ripping and mind-numbing. I use my foot as a symbol in the title for the pain and difficulty of my illness. The joy and the loss of my life cannot be understood separately because they aren’t lived separately; hence, “Heaven in My Foot.”
Yes and no. It’s the place I write from, not the subject matter I limit myself to. This blog doesn’t have a single subject matter. It’s about my illness, my life, and anything I want it to be about. It’s more like The New Yorker than Popular Mechanics, but not a lot like either. I’m not aiming for a niche audience of people “like” me. Maybe I should be, but the thought depresses me. How many stick-figure-cartoon- and personal-essay-loving semi-housebound eco-committed leftist Christian disautonomics with radical pain and fatigue could there possibly be anyway? I hope for readers who are all-around interested in life, who like my cartoons and writing, and who are willing to travel widely with me in thought and play.
I don’t know. Symptomatically speaking, I feel horrible a lot of the time. I have pain all over, which I can hold down only by keeping my activity level very, very, extremely low. The fatigue is bad too. And the dysfunction of my autonomic nervous system would, on its own, without medication, leave me almost completely nonfunctional. My heart races when I’m resting and races faster if I move, think, feel, or do anything. My blood pressure is high and plummets with sustained upright posture. Plus I have headaches, motion sensitivity, sleep disturbance, difficulty concentrating or processing information, and a kaleidoscopic array of other somatic unpleasantnesses that have no real name. I have some meds which help and some supplements too, but it’s all still there. All this may be caused by a newly discovered retrovirus called XMRV, but I don’t really know. I’m just waiting for more research.
The drip method. I do it in little bits, when I’m up to it. And littler bits when I’m not. My stick figures are about all my hands can manage regularly, drawing-wise. Even that is challenging. Sometimes I do more elaborate drawings or cartoons by breaking the labor into small chunks. I can only type a few sentences at a time, and not even that every day. So I write by speaking. I’m lying in bed just now, feeling weak all over. I’m speaking into a microphone attached to a headset attached to my digital voice recorder. I love my digital voice recorder with all my heart and all my mind and all my soul. When I’m feeling up to it, I will transfer this audio file to my computer and email it to my friend Alan, who will transcribe it for me and send it back. I will make corrections on paper, then Larry or Alan or someone else, sometimes even me, will enter them on the computer. By these arrangements, maneuverings, and machinations I collect drips of concentration and energy into blog posts.
I’ve tried voice recognition software, and it didn’t work for me, even the new kick-ass program for Macs. Makes my jaw and face hurt.
Check the left sidebar for a list of posts so far telling the story of my illness.
I don’t post religious writing very often. If you’re allergic, please skip those posts. Besides butter, punctuation, sleep, simplicity, thrift, self-doubt, energy efficiency, enlightened crudity, and osteopathy, I believe in grace. I believe the Big Love is given freely to everybody, not earned or achieved in any way. In theory, at least, I am a Trinitarian, meaning, to me, that I believe in God beyond all things, God in all things, God moving through all things: Creator, Christ, and Spirit. In practice, God transcendent is for me like the stars. I don’t crane my neck that way very often, but I’d be devastated if I looked up one clear night and they were gone. My theology of the Holy Spirit consists mostly of a mental post-it note which reads, “Must look into it, will surely like a lot.”
Incarnational theology is the prime mover of my religious imagination. I haven’t got a bit of interest in Jesus the very inspiring, really great guy. I’m more of an existentialist: consciousness of the abyss is the root of my faith. I believe God is with us in all of who we are and what we live and beyond us in all that is—the rocks and stars and butterflies, dog turds and oceans of methane. I think this theological bent is called Christian Panentheism, but, like everything else, I could be wrong about that. If you’re curious about where I go with it, read my post, “Take, Heat, This is My Body.”
I’m also strongly influenced by some expressions of Buddhism; I feel a debt of gratitude to Islam for first opening me to faith; and I continue a sometimes sweet, sometimes tense dialogue with the Baha’i Faith, of which I was a member for 12 years. I do not believe in underwear folding, antibacterial soap, panini makers, dieting, or keeping all options on the table. I do believe in confessional resistance—that is, resisting the forces of destruction in the world while always examining my own complicity with them.
Like most other bloggers, I love getting comments, although I try not to live for them. I’m not always able to respond, so please don’t take my silence as lack of appreciation. I don’t allow any advertising or attempts to get me to take my clothes off and put pictures up. Other than those prohibitions and their like, I’m very unlikely to delete any comments. Please don’t think you have to have something substantial to say. I just love to know you were here. There’s a “like” button under each post that allows people quickly to say they enjoyed something. If you don’t like something, you’ll have to leave a comment and tell me why.
All writing and images are copyright 2007-2010 Priscilla Gilman, unless otherwise noted or obvious. As long as you GIVE MY NAME and LINK TO heaveninmyfoot.com you may republish my cartoons for non-commercial purposes (without even asking). Follow the link below for my Creative Commons license. For further clarification, other permission, or help with formatting, contact me at pgilman at my fairpoint dot net.