I am angry with this thing called Cancer. Most of us are. We often hear it said that Cancer has “touched everyone’s lives” in some way. This is true. And it’s natural to hate the thing that causes loss.
But that’s not why I’m angry with Cancer. I’m angry with Cancer because I’m jealous of it. I have been for years. It’s infantile, I know, but I have wished it upon my family. “Cancer,” I have thought, “would be better than this.”
Let me tell you why.
I asked my dad two questions today, as I stood beside his grave.
I, who walk upon this earth that covers him, have before me an uncertain future (as do we all). I have decisions to make that will steer me upon this earth in any number of unspecified directions, in circles or meandering lines, with a maddeningly undetermined end point.
“What would you say, Dad, if you were still alive? What should I do? How should I choose? What would matter to you?”
A revealing exposé of my secret grad school romance with a hoop:
I am a yoga experimentalist. Or perhaps merely the subject of a greater mega-yoga conspiracy, designed explicitly to stretch my tendons and my temperament in various hypothetically-possible ways. It’s okay. You needn’t worry. Yoga and I have a history.
It began at a weekend synchronized swimming meet in the late eighties, when, as a virgin yoga-attemptee, I worried that I might be doing something dangerously evil by lying on my back and thinking about my breathing when I should have been in church. My spirit emerged intact, however, until my next wobbly attempt, a decade and a half later, in the much safer environs of my local gym. I’ve tried power yoga, yoga fit, hatha yoga, and, in a more audacious experiment, Tai Chi (which I realize is not yoga at all, but I include to convince you of the scope of my yoga-quest). I like to think I have become rather good at it. I can twist myself in all sorts of unprecedented directions. I am beginning to think that Yoga and I are becoming too familiar with each other.
It was with a sort of giddy delight, therefore, that I discovered Hoop Yoga. “What can it be?” I wondered. “What does one do?” I rubbed my palms together in greedy anticipation. There’s nothing I like better than an adventure.
Yoga, I am convinced, has rescued me from a lifetime of back pain and immobility; but my first few sun salutations were more laughable than laudable. Here’s a story from many years back; I won’t say how many, to protect the identity of my esteemed yogi. . .
I went to yoga tonight because I had nothing better to do, and because I have a policy of forcing myself to see at least one human face each day besides my own. If I manage to leave my property in the process, I have done well.
I have been to a few yoga classes before, and a few million pseudo-yoga classes – those would be the ones with instructors who are athletes, not weirded-out hippies. In my last real yoga class, I was apparently unable to feel the earth’s energy sufficiently to have correct elbow-wrist alignment in my downward dog (a pose I had perfected in pseudo-yoga, or so I thought). In my previous class, the instructor had required different poses for women whose uteri were in different states. “That,” I had thought, “is none of your business, lady.” Then she had chastised me for choosing the wrong pose. I didn’t go back for three years.
But tonight I was in that annoying frame of mind that is characterized by both lethargy and restlessnesss, and since the neighbour and the paper boy don’t count as human faces in my anti-isolation policy, off I went.
I am a morning writer. I like to migrate directly from my bed to my couch, pyjama-clad, to dump my morning thoughts into my mac.
There’s something fluid about a morning mind. It’s just groggy enough to be unconcerned about the inner naysayer. It hasn’t entirely separated the events of the night from the events of the day. Dreams are still a little buoyant. Words are still a little wiggly, dancing coyly as they wait to be reined in. It’s a game, this morning prose, an exercise in letting go and urging on.
It’s a shame, then, that most mornings I stumble hazily through my morning routine of eating, washing, and dressing for a day of mundane writerlessness. I have this outside life, you see, that requires me to deposit myself at specific locations at predetermined times, despite my unwillingness to materialize in public before noon. Jobs and gym classes are interferences, staving away the freshness of the day and grounding me in socially acceptable self-censorship. By evening, the words have often wiggled away.