In my last days on holiday, Jane tells me that I was increasingly assured, competent and confident in my swimming. Most things were going swimmingly. Even if some were not.
At first, it felt like a headache. Which morphed into a neck ache. Which had me rather frightening for quite a spell. For my life is more than a pain in the neck…a pain in the neck defines my life. All of my neuromuscular ills, and they have come in something like a volley per decade, derive from the cervical region. Neck trouble strikes terror in the heart. And I seem to have survived this latest round rather well. That is to say, anxiety marched on stage, made a few moves, took a few bows, then marched off.
The neck pain seems to be waning. Its origin may lie in the very swimming pool Jane and I recently enjoyed. Even when doing a feeble sidestroke, the body naturally extends. Which is a good thing, unless the body is 65 years old and structurally impaired. Then, there is no such thing as breakneck speed. Any speed can be too fast. And swimming twice a day, instead of once, should be a natural, even gentle, evolution. But once you break your neck, twice may exceed breakneck speed. At least that is my theory. Next time, an even more gradual pace seems indicated. One doesn’t have to jump into the deep end. Better to start swimming gradually, even better not to start at all. Better to continue, to keep up some level of swimming as a constant. You heard it here first. Do remind me.
Still, even without some great neuromuscular leap backward, time and age are facts. The baseline has changed. The body feels heavy. Regardless of its weight. And assuming that gravity has not increased. Heavy. When I think of myself toppling to the floor of my cousin’s Oakland house, just as Passover Seder was about to begin, what I feel is the heaviness. Never mind the momentary inattention or waning sense of balance contributing to the fall as I crutched my way to the toilet. It’s not the event, but the feeling. The weight of something more than body mass. The lack of more than the countervailing force of musculature. A body mass that is beyond body, that feels more like amassed years. A force that pulls one down, lower and closer to the earth. Which is, when one considers it, not all that bad.
For a disabled life offers, if nothing else, constant practice in relinquishment. Which any sage would tell us is an essential mortal skill. The difference between hanging onto reality and hanging on for dear life. A subtle thing, this. Any quasi-ambulatory disabled person will tell you that slipping isn’t good. But this one will tell you that slippage is part of the picture. So, hang on, get a grip, while you’re learning to let go, give up control…and preparing for a second career in the guru business. Weekend seminars taught by my able assistant, and, if you don’t know it already, the book is extra.