On the Benefits of Felinity


(TABBY Stretch)

(TABBY Stretch) Just looking at her makes me feel good.

After days of little to no movement, I finally got the chance to stretch my limbs this morning in a Hatha Yoga class.

For a good 75 minutes, I felt like a kitty cat being put through its paces (to mix the mammalian metaphors). A week of curling up in mostly fetal positions had welded my hip and shoulder blade muscles into sheets of corrugated ironand I felt the creak of unwilling metal every time I sank into a low lunge or opened up into a back bend.

Apart from the occasional coughing fit, the entire thing had felt gloriously…liberating (the Downward Dogs had felt literally divine).

It felt like practicing yoga again for the first time, but with the benefit of years of body awareness. It was movement coupled with wonder (“so this is what tightness here feels like…”), curiosity (“why are my hamstrings loose?”) and appreciation (“oh wow, I can still bind my wrists”). Of course, my breath was laughably shallow, but at least I didn’t have to prop my chest up in Savasana.

Until I’m fully recovered, a gentle practice is probably all I can do. But for the first time ever, I’m actually in a space to enjoy the gentleness of a gentle practice. For the first time, it doesn’t feel like a cop-out, a demotion or a grudgingly-accepted replacement of my usual practice. For the first time ever, it actually feels right.

And strangely enough, this sense that I can afford to be gentle comes from a knowledge and appreciation of my own body’s resilience and strength. Just give me some time, is what it’s been telling me. You’ll be up again one day standing on your head and throwing your legs up against the wall. Just not now and just not yet.

So yes, it’s kitty cat days for me: snooze, stretch; snooze, slink away.

They’re pretty good days, I have to say.

On the Passage of Days


(JANUARY Gone) Time flies, so you may as well have fun.

(JANUARY Gone) Time flies, so you may as well have fun.

And just like that, January’s nearly gone.

(For the sake of tense simplicity, I will pretend it’s completely gone.)

It was a good month despite the fact that I spent a quarter of it sick.

The fact that I can say that it was a good monthin spite of having spent a quarter of it sickis precisely why it was a good month.

So far, what I’ve discovered this 2015 (thanks to January) is that it is possiblethrough a combination of hard work, unrelenting diligence, selective remembering, and even more selective forgettingto fashion a sturdy if somewhat unremarkable happiness.

The naturally bucolic will not appreciate the magnitude of this epiphany. The naturally melancholic will grapple with the barest hint of its possibility.

(I belong to the tribe of the naturally melancholic; grappling occurs to me like breathing.)

What I look forward to this February: infiltrating the tribe of the naturally bucolic.

Let’s see if the unremarkable can become remarkable.

On the Indomitability of Love


(STUDIO Bottles) You know you're running a small business when you have a story for EVERY thing ever bought for the establishment. Abbey and I bought these colored bottles in Dapitan. (Photo edited by the author.)

(STUDIO Bottles) You know you’re running a small business when you have a story for EVERY thing ever bought for the establishment. Abbey and I bought these colored bottles in Dapitan. (Photo edited by the author.)

During yesterday’s quarantine, my car’s preventive maintenance facility finally called. I could get my Civic, they said, right up until 5:00 pm.

It was around 3:30 pm when they rang. I mulled over my options briefly, made my decision, and five minutes later, left the house on foot.

The idea, more than anything else, was to stretch my legs and get just the slightest bit of exercise after having been cooped up for nearly four days. If I took it easy, I figured I would get to the dealer in around 20 minutes or so.

It wasn’t the distance I feared so much as the noise and the exhaust from passing cars. True enough, the air felt thin, and I ambled over the sidewalks on shaky legs, squinting eyes and straining lungs.

Thankfully enough, the new overpass was built with tiny steps, so the climb to the top occurred as an almost imperceptible ascent. Ahead of me, a ShopWise loomed just a block before the dealer itself.

They have a huge sale on folding chairs, Abbey’s words came to mind unbidden.

It shouldn’t take me that long, I thought and made another decision.

Ten minutes later, I was in the hypermart’s housewares section, looking at a neat display of gray and white folding chairs. I took one down, sat on it, felt it bear my weight, tested its rubber grips, tested its stability, checked if the space below the back rest would allow thighs and possible a torso to pass through, used it to do a half downward dog, decided at the last minute NOT to use it do a supported back bendthen finally called a shop assistant over.

“Do you have at least twelve of these on stock?” I asked with the slightest wheeze.

They did, indeed. While they scurried off to assemble the order, I noticed that a screw on one of the display items had fallen off. I picked it up, found a disposable wrench nearby, and idly twisted the screw back in. Then I sat down and quietly waited for my lungs to work.

It’s funny how hypoxia can make even the most impatient patient.

“I don’t have a car now, so I’ll pay for these first then come back later to pick the chairs up,” I explained when the shop assistant returned. He nodded, and ten minutes later I was back on the street heading for my original destination.

“I went to ShopWise,” I told Abbey over the phone. “After two years of looking for the perfect yoga studio chairs, I didn’t want to lose the chance.”

She understood, of course. In my shoes (or lungs), she would have done the same thing.

It’s funny how not even hypoxia can keep you from what you love.

On the Lure of Novelty


(NEW Look) I'll have to pay good money to make it actually LOOK like this.

(NEW Look) I’ll have to pay good money to make it actually LOOK like this.

Every now and then, I’ll go through the Themes Showcase of WordPress and shop for a new look for the blog.

Once in a while, I’ll see something I like and try it on, only to decide at the last possible moment that it doesn’t work.

This new look doesn’t completely work either (it’s got PINK accents and the blog title doesn’t stand out against the header image) but it’s a tolerable level of unworkability.

Which means I’ll keep it for a while.

Hurray for tiny changes made in the face of tolerable discomforts.

On the Sound of Breath


(PHILIPPINES, Batanes) It was cold that day too when we visited the lighthouse. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

(PHILIPPINES, Batanes) It was cold that day too when we visited the lighthouse. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

And just because, let’s shift our attention to other things:

The fan whirring, making more noise than air.

The clock ticking, forever ten minutes ahead.

The maids next door chatting; a dog howling; a door swinging.

Scientists say that you have to scour the earth now to find areas without human noise and that these regions are fast disappearing.

Is there any place left for us to get away from ourselves?

~~~~~

And just because I can’t help it:

I would like, for a few moments, to get away from myself.

There’s an elephant on my chest (one I haven’t felt since I was a child)a massive, tusky thing that often required steam and steroids to drive away.

I’ve long since thrown the paraphernalia out (the steroids always made my heart beat uncomfortably fast) and so now I have to wait for the prickly pachyderm to take its leave.

I don’t know how long it’ll stay. In recent years, it never stayed this long.

Now it grins at me with malevolent eyes. For all my practice with pranayama, it’s all I can do to take one normal breath at a time.

The laborious inhales and exhales add to the horrifying volume of human noise.

This is why we’ll never find true silence anywhere, whatever the scientists say. Wherever we go, we bring the sound of our own breath.

~~~~~

And just because I managed to get that off my chest:

(Not the elephant; how I wish.)

I can shift my attention to other things.

On the Wresting of Joy


(ENGLAND, London) An overcast day in Hyde Park. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

(ENGLAND, London) An overcast day in Hyde Park. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

The dust is still settling; the enemy is still in rout; here and there, pockets of resistance still remain.

One of their final stands is the space between my temples: the persistent throb continues its faint tattoo.

Another beleaguered area is the region between my shoulder blades. In spite of habit, I can’t quite stand up straight. The rooting and rising and grounding and expanding required hurts in places beyond the nomenclature of bone and flesh.

So I shuffle into and out of bed, feeling my vulnerability to gravity more acutely than usual, feeling my affinity with the dirt more sharply than desirable.

Is it a hallmark of aging when you see the signs of death of everywhere? Or is it simply the viewpoint of a melancholic mind?

But enough about death and melancholy. The leaves outside my bedroom window glowed as greenly today as they did yesterday and in the face of dulled and deadened taste buds the coffee tasted as caramelly sweet.

It’s a good sign that the wresting (of joy) hasn’t begun to feel like wrestling just yet.

Perhaps tomorrow I won’t need the help of the leaves.

On a Eulogy to Presence


(ENGLAND, Plymouth) I remember the leaves on that tree in the garden. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

(ENGLAND, Plymouth) I remember the leaves on that tree in the garden. (Photo taken and edited by the author.)

And just like that, I’ve been laid low.

One day, I was standing on my head and throwing my legs up against the wall; the next day, I’m curled up in bed, my one tenuous tether to a constantly receding reality the burn of camphor on my shoulders and neck.

There’s a throb between my temples as faint and as constant as the background radiation of the universe; it shows itself as snow in the screen of my mind. Field String Theory states that all of life is a symphony of vibrating strings: I can feel the oscillations as the pulsating pain in my joints. You’re alive, they tell me, life is this illness and this pain.

Life is difficult, Editha also told me yesterday, so you have to wrest what joy you can from it. Today, despite everything, I find this easier to do than usual. (The leaves of the tree framed by my bedroom window are an especially viridescent green.)

For the most part, I lie in bed, lulled to and snatched from sleep by a bone-deep ache. Things hurt just because they’re there; the soreness glows white and blue in an otherwise twilight world.

I know that sometime late tomorrow, I’ll most probably be well, and the universe will tether me to the here and now with the humdrum little anchors of daily life.

I’m sure, even then, that the leaves will glow green.