T.G.I.F.

I know enough to realize that any reprieve my body is granted is only ever temporary. The body has an expiration date, and for those of us who care enough to forge on, to race the clock, much of our life’s work has to do with keeping that date at bay with maintenance, with spit and Band-Aids and all the laughter and intimacy and love we can cram into any twenty-four-hour day.

— Gina Frangello, Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason (Counterpoint, April 6, 2021)


Photo: Rodney Smith (via seemoreandmore)

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. [Read more…]

Body

When bodies are discussed, especially in popular culture, it has often meant a very circumscribed set of themes, largely to do with what the body looks like or how to maintain it at a pinnacle of health. The body as a set of surfaces, of more or less pleasing aspect. The perfect, unattainable body, so smooth and gleaming it is practically alien. What to feed it, how to groom it, the multiple dismaying ways in which it might fail to fit in or measure up. But the element of the body that interested me was the experience of living inside it, inhabiting a vehicle that was so cataclysmically vulnerable, so unreliably subject to pleasure and pain, hatred and desire…

I wanted to formalise my understanding of the body, and I was fascinated too by the idea that it might have its own language, distant from speech but just as eloquent and meaningful, composed of symptoms and sensations rather than words… Over the next two years, I drew every bone, muscle and organ in the body, memorising their functions and their names, right down to the tiny bones of the hand: lunate and pisiform, named for their resemblance to moons and peas. On sheets of butcher’s paper, I mapped the metabolic transformations that went on inside the miniature factory of each cell. At the beginning I had only the crudest notion of how the body worked, but I struggled gamely on, fascinated and a little appalled by how much of my life happened beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control. Gradually it all came into focus. The body was a device for processing the external world; a conversion machine, hoarding, transforming, discarding, stripping for parts.

Olivia Laing, Everybody: A Book About Freedom (W. W. Norton & Company, May 4, 2021)

 

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Ono No Komachi, tr. by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Oratani, from The Ink Dark Moon Love Poems by Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, Daybreak. 7:02 am. Jan 28, 2020.  26° F, feels like 15° F, wind gusts up to 26 mph. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Quote Source: Feral-ballad
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I started listening to this book on Audible during my morning walk last week. I had just completed the introduction and told Self: “This is a book you’ll never forget.

And YOU will likely say, why should I bother. Or as a line from Nestor’s intro says: “But why do I need to learn how to breathe? I’ve been breathing my whole life.”

Exactly what I said.

Now, I can’t get this book out of my head.

Every breath, a gift.


Excerpts from the Introduction:

“90 percent of us—very likely me, you, and almost everyone you know—is breathing incorrectly and that this failure is either causing or aggravating a laundry list of chronic diseases… This work was upending long-held beliefs in Western medical science. Yes, breathing in different patterns really can influence our body weight and overall health. Yes, how we breathe…

This book is a scientific adventure into the lost art and science of breathing. It explores the transformation that occurs inside our bodies every 3.3 seconds, the time it takes the average person to inhale and exhale…

It will take the average reader about 10,000 breaths to read from here to the end of the book. If I’ve done my job correctly, starting now, with every breath you take, you’ll have a deeper understanding of breathing and how best to do it. Twenty times a minute, ten times, through the mouth, nose, tracheostomy, or breathing tube, it’s not all the same. How we breathe really matters…

By your 3,000th breath, you’ll know the basics of restorative breathing…

By your 6,000th breath, you will have moved into the land of serious, conscious breathing…

By your 8,000th breath, you’ll have pushed even deeper into the body to tap, of all things, the nervous system…

By your 10,000th breath, and the close of this book, you and I will know how the air that enters your lungs affects every moment of your life and how to harness it to its full potential until your final breath…

By the law of averages, you will take 670 million breaths in your lifetime. Maybe you’ve already taken half of those. Maybe you’re on breath 669,000,000. Maybe you’d like to take a few million more.”

James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (Riverhead Books, May 26, 2020)


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

“In fact, from the first clasped stick and improvised carrier, tools have extended the body’s strength, skill, and reach to a remarkable degree. We live in a world where our hands and feet can direct a ton of metal to go faster than the fastest land animal, where we can speak across thousands of miles, blow holes in things with no muscular exertion but the squeeze of a forefinger. It is the unaugmented body that is rare now, and that body has begun to atrophy as both a muscular and a sensory organism. In the century and a half since the railroad seemed to go too fast to be interesting, perceptions and expectations have sped up, so that many now identify with the speed of the machine and look with frustration or alienation at the speed and ability of the body. The world is no longer on the scale of our bodies, but on that of our machines, and many need—or think they need—the machines to navigate that space quickly enough. Of course, like most “time-saving” technologies, mechanized transit more often produces changed expectations than free time; and modern Americans have significantly less time than they did three decades ago. To put it another way, just as the increased speed of factory production did not decrease working hours, so the increased speed of transportation binds people to more diffuse locales rather than liberating them from travel time (many Californians, for example, now spend three or four hours driving to and from work each day). The decline of walking is about the lack of space in which to walk, but it is also about the lack of time—the disappearance of that musing, unstructured space in which so much thinking, courting, daydreaming, and seeing has transpired. Machines have sped up, and lives have kept pace with them.”

— Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


Image: rpffm58 with speed

The horses do not lower themselves without reason

The horses do not…
lower themselves without reason…
Ask a woman
from Ohio about actual horses
& they will be able to move,
sometimes without their body,
to places that feel like everywhere
now that they’ve been there…

~ Darren Demaree, from “Emily as Every Time I’m Asked to Write a Poem…” in What Are Birds Journal (Issue 1.1)


Notes: Poem: (via Boston Poetry Slam). Photo: Anna Attlid (via See More)

 

It’s been a long day

Rain falls
on our tin roof; sharp taps of reality,
start and stop. I breathe myself back
into my body.

Deborah A. Miranda, from “Almost Midnight,” in Split This Rock


Notes:

 

Saturday Morning (Soul Train)

There is in the soul a desire
for not thinking.
For being still.

~ Raymond Carver, from “Radio Waves,” in All of Us: The Collected Poems

– – –

the body remains at home
tending to the housekeeping. It sweeps
and sweeps while the soul sits on a
riverbank somewhere, looking at clouds
The soul, it seems, has kept the best
memories: a silver dress that
knew how to dance, a kiss from mama,
and the one good year. Or maybe two…

~ Eleanor Lerman, from “A Myth Sitting by a River”


Notes:

 

T.G.I.F.: It’s been a long week

I
slowly
withdraw
from
my
body.

~ Anna Kamienska, from A Nest of Quiet: A Notebook


Notes: Photo Manipulation by Laurent Rosset (Denmark) (via this isn’t happiness)

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