February 29, 2012

One Breath at a Time.

“Beneath the heavenly equator in the valleys where the sweet and saline dew meet, there grows a huge poisonous fungus, and the tasty little edible mushrooms on its cap transform its contaminated blood into sweetness. The deer like to invigorate their masculine strength by nibbling these little mushrooms. But if they are careless and bite down too deep, they ingest some of the big poisonous fungus along with the little mushrooms, and then they die. Every evening, when I kiss my beloved, I think: it is only natural that one day I will bite down too deep….”

~ Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars

“…don’t let them fool you with dope and cocaine;
Won’t do no harm to feel your own pain…

~ John Lennon, I Found Out

It takes only a few frustrating details to irreparably alter the most placid description. Memories make me ugly…sometimes. I know alcohol’s not an answer, nor even much of a question, but knowledge ain’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

There’s a song by Emmylou Harris called Boulder to Birmingham, about the death of her friend and mentor Gram Parsons. A line at the beginning of the second verse…well, you really got me this time…resonated strongly after my dad died. After so many years of messing with each others’ heads, in protracted and largely unconscious psychological warfare—him a licensed shrink, me, the son of a shrink who’d grown up learning to resist anything anybody else wanted me to do or to be like my life depended on it, which it kinda did—I’d say we were evenly matched…until he went and threw down the ultimate trump card.

Every couple years I quit coffee…temporarily…like, for a month or two—usually when it gets to the point that excessive caffeine seems to be keeping me awake and bothering my stomach. At this point, I’m long overdue. Sure, I’ve been down to one cup a day for the past couple weeks, but it’s still difficult to schedule that three day headache.

Last week somebody at the rehab called me an angel. I was trying to tutor her in writing, and, with just a couple reluctant sentences on paper, she put the pen down and vented to me for over an hour about how she missed her kids and how pissed off she was at their father. Apparently, I’d called her to come meet with me just after she’d gotten off the phone with him and was sitting with the other clients, pretending everything was okay. She said she felt she could tell me everything precisely because I’m not a therapist—that I was an angel God had sent, just when she needed me.

I was late to yoga class this morning (hate it when that happens). I walked in on everybody else “already in yoga class mode” while I was in “f*ck, I’m late to yoga class mode.” This was after 15 or 20 minutes in the car, getting pissed off at other drivers (speed up goddammit), I’m trying to get to my f*ckin’ yoga class…tryin’ to be more open n’ compassionate n’ sh*t…get outta the f*ckin’ way!

Maybe there’s a reason the women at the rehab can relate to me, even if I’ve never been addicted to cocaine or heroin. They’re struggling with the one day at a time thing. I’m working on one breath at a time and, thankfully, I get another chance, every couple seconds or so.

* a somewhat different version of this piece appeared a while ago at Yoga for Cynics*



Editor: Brianna Bemel

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