|The heart with a mind of its own.(Be present.)||The mind with a heart of its own.(It's past.)||The dream that is your waking life.(Go there now.)|
Here is an entry I wrote quite a while ago:
“We can never tell who may or may not be saints working in their own way for the benefit of others.”—from a commentary to “The Praise of the Awakening Mind”
This morning M. and I went and did water aerobics at the Y. We were the youngest guppies in the class by more than half. The pool when we got there—late, of course—was filled with old women and men who chatted while the instructor gave directions for various stretches. As I got into the pool, someone turned to me and greeted me with a smile, and I felt much better despite my role as interloper. I tried to find a spot where I wasn’t in anyone’s way and ended up in the zone near the 5’ deep sign where the old men had gathered. The others moved to make room for me without the trace of pissiness that I have experienced from other aerobics classes with younger participants. M. came and joined me at the deep end, and we went through an hour’s worth of aerobics with old men and women who put me to shame as I have not exercised in three years and was straining a bit while they all chatted about the price of tomatoes and the Dennis the Menace cartoon in the morning paper. I distracted my monkey mind from the task of beating myself up for being such a wimp that old ladies in pink-flowered bathing caps could kick my ass in water aerobics by checking everyone out. The woman telling the tomato story (which was part of a larger salad saga that included the correct ratio of spinach to lettuce, vinegar dressing woes, and something about canned tuna which may or may not have been part of the larger issue of salad making but rather some tangential story about how one could purchase tomatoes cheaper in the place where tuna was more expensive and the tomatoes more expensive in the place where one could find tuna four cans for a dollar, or something) had a pleasing “Be-a-good-girl-and-go-get-Grandma-her-cigarettes” kind of voice. The other woman taking part in the conversation was reduced to making comments like, “Oh, that sounds good.” The men near me were either totally bald or disturbingly hairy. Those with hair had haircuts that hadn’t changed since WWI. They, for the most part, pretended as if I didn’t exist. They were not rude about it; I just think that there was some confusion about a woman younger than fifty being in the pool. They looked as though any minute someone should, if they said nothing, come along with a net and fish me out. The instructor was a Native American man with brown bread skin and dark brown nipples. I found myself wishing that I had been blessed with such nipples. He gave very confusing directions sometimes and very clearly explicit directions other times and in between times counted to himself. At one point he did this “left-right-left-right-left” chant that he sped up and slowed down to get those heart rates going. I found myself thinking about what kind of music all of this might be set to, as there was no music. I came up with that kind of floating calliope kind of music in which we all might, in our pink flowered bathing caps and nose pincher thingies, form intricate geometric shapes. I imagined that all of this would not be so out of place if we were suddenly transported to some seaside resort in England where it is too cold to actually get in the water except up to one’s knees. I found then that I was grinning like an idiot and that several people were looking at me askance yet surreptitiously. So then I stopped grinning so much.
Later, in the locker room, I was greeted with the sight of a damn lot of naked flesh. When I was taking the evening adult swim class, I was often the only woman in the class (besides the two instructors, who did not shower before donning their sweats to leave) and so I often had the locker room to myself. Even then I did not really feel comfortable removing my suit to shower; I would just rinse off and then change under a towel near the lockers. How silly! I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I could not afford to expose the skin I was in. But this morning—well! This morning, it would have been quite odd to stay in my swimsuit in the shower, so I stripped out and quickly showered amidst the eight other women who chatted naked, casually, about a special on burritos at Taco Bell. In the locker room, one woman—tall, gravely voiced, nude—welcomed me to the class and asked if I was going to come regularly. I replied in the affirmative. She introduced herself as Lynn and then told me about the other class which is less crowded and taught by some “black belt in Tae Qwon Do.” Some women apparently attend both classes. Then Lynn went on to tell the others about how she had gone fishing the day before. Someone asked her what she caught and she said, “Moss.” Then she launched into a story while she was dressing in her tan snakeskin leggings and black bra and petroglyph-patterned sweatshirt about how she thought that her dog might have a plastic deficiency because he had kept bringing back old combs and six-pack rings. And everyone laughed and I laughed too because Lynn is a cut-up. Later, Lynn climbed into a dilapidated maroon Mustang convertible LX and sped away happily. I want to be Lynn when I grow up, I think.
Last night, M and I went soaking with Sophistica and Nick and Manny and her roommate Lee. Turns out that there is a place here in the Valley were you can get some unlimited soak time in the outdoor hot tubs for nine ducks (if you are a student and bring your own towel). It was a perfect day for soaking: kind of cloudy but warm. While we chatted, it got dark and lights which ran around the edge of the pool came on. We all climbed out after an hour or two and went for an excellent Thai dinner. It was a very nice thing, soaking. I felt all warm and settled inside when we were done. It made me realize how much I love water in any form. I always knew that I loved big collections of water: oceans, pools, lakes. But I had never realized that a hot tub could make me so happy.
Lately I have been feeling this kind of deepening that I have always associated with the downward spiral of depression. The Zoloft is keeping me afloat for the moment, but I wonder if it always will or if I am deluding myself. In this deepening, I have recognized the need that I have to begin the journey to lose weight. I’m pretty settled in myself, and if I don’t lose weight, I think I’ll be okay, but I want to be fit and be able to move around and run again. I picture myself running (!) which is something I haven’t done in a long time. I picture an “active” me who can climb stairs and walk fast without breathing hard. I picture a “fit” me rather than a “skinny” me and I wonder if this will make any difference in the effort that I put into losing weight.
Saint of the Day: Katherine Smith. The previously stern and forbidding Kate who, when I told her three years ago walking on the shores of the ocean near Darwin, Australia, that I had never before set foot in the ocean, threw her arms around me and cried “Congratulations!”