Walking. Beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control.

4:26 a.m.

Dark Sky app: 48º F. Feels like 42º F, with wind gusts up to 27 mph. Cloud cover 95%. Light rain forecast in one hour… and, then, 100% cloud cover.

I slide on hoodie, with down jacket on top. Tuk over the ears. And out the door.

I ease into the front seat. Lower back, to hamstring, to thigh to left knee, sizzles. With both hands on the steering wheel, I close eyes, clench teeth, inhale, and wait for lightning to pass. I shift in seat, right, then left, then up straight, trying to locate the pain-free zone. Can’t shake it. I fire up the ignition, and drive.

With a sliver of time, a narrow window for light, I need to hustle. I slide out of the front seat, gingerly place right foot, and then left foot on the ground. I stand for a moment and wait for pain to subside. A few deep breaths, and sizzle settles to simmer, and its go-time.

390 consecutive days, like in a row. My morning walk at Cove Island Park. Backpack. Camera. And I’m off.

I walk.

There was no conscious tie between this pain and yesterday’s purchase of Olivia Laing’s Everybody: A Book About Freedom. Amazon’s pitch: “The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. In her ambitious, brilliant sixth book, Olivia Laing charts an electrifying course through the long struggle for bodily freedom.”

Recall pulls up passages that stuck, this 40 pages in:

“inhabiting a vehicle that was so cataclysmically vulnerable, so unreliably subject to pleasure and pain”

“Acts like coughing and bleeding involve a body spilling out, exceeding its bounds; shaking, fitting, choking are manifestations of a body no longer under conscious control”

“how much of my life happened beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control”

“I wanted to understand was the body itself: why it’s so difficult to inhabit, why you might want to escape or subdue it”

1/4 mile in, miraculously the pain has ceased. Sans the morning sun, the sensation is Gina Frangello’s in “Blow Your House Down” … “all you can do is stand there blinking at the sun in disbelief and wanting to fall to your knees and kiss the ground.” And I was prepared to kiss the ground, and even eat dirt for the respite.

The Body now pain-free, joyous. A circus Elephant, giddy, now free of its chains. Energy surging, pressing the pace, stretching out the stride, arms swinging, locomotion pulling the Body forward.

I reach the Ocean. Wind gusts blow onshore. Light rain falls. Soft waves break on my boots, leaving their trace of white foam.

My spirit will wake to a former pain,
which comes like a letter from a balcony of
memory. I’ll cry out—
I am still alive—
because I feel the arrow piercing my side.
I’ll look to the right, toward the jasmine–
it was there that I learned those early songs of
the body. I’ll look to the left, toward the sea
where I learned to fish for foam.

— Mahmoud Darwish, from “With the Mist So Dense on the Bridge” in VQR, Summer 2008

Notes: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels for sharing the Mahmoud Darwish poem.


  1. The Body now pain-free, joyous. A circus Elephant, giddy, now free of its chains. Energy surging, pressing the pace, stretching out the stride, arms swinging, locomotion pulling the Body forward.


    Liked by 4 people

  2. It’s no fun when the body doesn’t co-operate. Hope you can “walk it off.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow, David. I had no idea you were going through so much pain. I have noticed that any that I feel seems to dissipate when I move it (body) but I feel for you.
    What a fantastic passage as mentioned by Susan and Lori above.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. how wonderful to be pain-free, if even for just a short time… nice job getting out before the miserable weather…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘The moment of relief is such a gift! Great post.

    ‘Your body is your best guide. It constantly tells you, in the form of pain or sensations, what’s working for you and what is not.- Hina Hashmi

    And there’s always a price to pay when we ignore it’s messages. 🙏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  6. any moment pain free is a moment to savor, never take it for granted

    Liked by 1 person

  7. If that pain brought about that magnificent ethereal photo, then I can also hope that you can lose the pain but keep the talent

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beauty, ‘all of it,’ as you are wont to say. Your photographs are a visual delight! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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