David – USA

Oh, mud.

Sitting on the river bank warming myself with a hot toddy after the shoot, I notice a woman in the distance tumbling off the path down the river bank. Erica and I hurry up the trail and find her, still on the phone, trying to figure out how to crawl back up the muddy, sandy slope. Each of us taking an arm, we get her back on the trail. Her tears show embarrassment and frustration as she dusts herself off, “Oh no, I’m all muddy,” she sniffles worriedly before thanking us and continuing on her path.

This day was all about getting muddy. It was about giving myself permission to be dirty and unattractive and messy. It was about playing in that mud and washing away the anxiety and weight of perfection. It was a celebration of grit and chaos and the lower self; it was a homecoming.

Embodiment has always resonated with me. I have faced the demons of insecurity on the physical plane. I have long ago danced naked in the sun and conquered the dragons guarding the treasures of sexual freedom. But despite these victories, I have lately found myself far from the path of living an empowered, embodied life. I find myself ungrounded and tired, lost in a labyrinth of addictive consumption: food, alcohol, entertainment, anything I can throw into the bottomless pit of dissatisfaction for temporary relief. And as I’ve tried to feed these false idols, the seeds of fear and insecurity began to take hold and spread like weeds choking off the flowers of confidence and joy I’d previously planted.

And so there I was, off of my path at the bottom of the riverbank covered in mud; embarrassed of where I’d let myself fall to; embarrassed to ask for help; embarrassed to be seen.

And now is the time I stand up and climb out. Now is the time I laugh at myself for getting so upset over a little mess. Now is the time I return to my body. Now is the time to remember that mud is to be celebrated. I remembered it as I stood naked in the river and dug between the rocks for mud with curiosity at its varying makeup. I remembered as I sifted through it with my hands and marveled at how rich and vibrant the mud was. I remembered as I ran the mud through my hair I basked in the creative powers of the lower self. I remembered as I laughed and sang at the grand sense of humor of God.