i am not still.

i cannot quiet the hamster mind that spins on its wheel. i do not know how. i never knew how. at some point there stops being anyone to blame for that but me.

neither am i in motion.

i used to walk and that counted for something, the body engaged enough to suspend the hamster, swing him around like a partner in a square dance. but it has been cold, nasty, slippery. where would i go? i think i am too busy.

i do not sweat but i pine for it a little, like i pine for the meditative stillness. my imagination oversells me and then i will not try, because my body is only a shell and i find everything physical disappointing the first twenty times. dualism. i do not believe the wall i crash into. at least the crash never disappoints.

i have developed carpal tunnel syndrome. no wonder. i forget myself, shoulders hunched up around my ears, arms akimbo on the laptop like a little troll. i notice only when the cat inserts herself between me and my screen and when i raise a hand to bat her away i realize i cannot feel her indignant nip of protest. my body is that which is demanded of. i ward it all off by disappearing into the opposite of mindfulness, even if i think i live in my mind. even if i don’t believe the mind/body divide.

unravel that, Zen masters.

i do not like driving anymore. in the turn on the roundabout when the truck pulls up in your blind spot and you realize your hand has slipped on the wheel and everything lurches and you cannot feel for a second too long whether your fingers have hold of the goddam thing or no? i do not like that.

but i like the acupuncture that comes with the carpal tunnel. the little pulse of energy, the quiet waiting. i inhabit myself, because i am afraid to move.

acupuncture i liked the first time. i was nervous: i’d been in Asia less than two weeks. i understood little. i was afraid of taking too much clothing off and appearing a flagrant exhibitionist. not that i don’t like the idea of being a flagrant exhibitionist, but i prefer most of my fantasies unenacted. the doctor – in Korea, the acupuncturists were all called doctor – had warm hands and his fingers on my spine were firm and probing, little pads of heat. i found it strangely sensual. nothing was required of me.

when we played doctor as kids, i always wanted to be the patient.

the needles slid in that first time and he left me curled over myself, fetal, in a clean white room with a clean white sheet draped over me. i waited, with no sense of anticipated time. he returned, asked me questions i didn’t understand. i smiled blankly. he smiled too. he removed the needles, then showed me a hypodermic. he injected something into my back. my legs went queasy and it occurred to me that i was thousands of miles from home in a city of 4 million people very few of whom knew i existed. it occurred to me that possibly this had all been a very bad idea.

it occurred me that since i couldn’t walk away at the moment, i might as well keep breathing. so i was still. and maybe my mind unfolded like a flower: i do not remember. i remember just that i lay there immobile and amused enough to be mostly unafraid and i drifted and i felt present and mindful to the fact of my vulnerable being, a speck on the vast white cotton sheet of the world.

he came back again and i was gratified to discover i could move my legs and then i tried to pay the receptionists ten times the amount they charged because i hadn’t quite mastered numbers yet and i didn’t want to appear cheap.

i never went back. had sex been so good the first time perhaps i’d have become a nun.

but now it is me cramped up over my umbilical screen, me lugging children across ice-covered parking lots, me plucking my shirt from the slurping mouth of the needy, kneading cat.

and my body protests. or finally i hear it. but i do not speak its language, never have. i have spent almost forty years inside a body i ignore, and it will not be ignored anymore. i suspect i could do better. i suspect there is another way to live with myself. i will take a kettlebell clinic tomorrow, just to try. but i do not get it. i do not understand what i am grasping towards. not understanding is the thing that scares me most, and so i hesitate.

i want to be still. i want to be in motion. i want to be a speck on a vast white sheet.

how? i ask you. how?
***

have any of you dealt with carpal tunnel? or kicked it to the curb? how? i have this fear that suddenly this window of connection on the world will close, because my hands will not cooperate.

have any of you figured out a way to float like a tiny speck and be still and be engaged without actually liking the idea of oh, say, exercise? or activity? i have a block here, and i own it. but i do not know how to shove it off my disembodied back.

teach me, sensei. halp.