Dance Therapy

Dance Therapy

Part 1

Panchita’s limp is fixed and so everything should be right in the world. And indeed it pretty much is. This morning I woke up at 6:16am to text friends and tell them I wouldn’t be going surfing. Now, why on Earth would I do that? Why would I pass up an opportunity to do the one thing I love with two people I love? Short answer: it didn’t feel right. Long answer: it didn’t feel right. Plus, to a certain extent, I probably just wanted to sleep in. And also didn’t want to sit in the car for six hours. Granted, the company would be great. The two friends I would’ve been surfing with are kindred spirits. But lately I’ve been trying to listen to my intuition, or the Tao, or the Logos, or whatever you want to call it, and today it was telling me, in a gentle but insistent voice, “Today’s not the day to go surfing. You’ve got other shit to do. Like read that one Carlo Rovelli book. And maybe drink some mate. And maybe do some laundry. Don’t worry: you’ll go surfing this weekend.” And indeed, that is the plan, to go surfing this weekend, possibly at Westport, possibly at La Push. And then Monday off to Norway. Yesterday I researched how much it would be to take the train from Bergen to Oslo after my few days in Bergen. About 40 bucks. And supposedly it’s a gorgeous train ride. So that’s an option. And then from there are cheap flights anywhere. A ferry to Kiel, Germany. Or just hang out in Oslo, going from cafe to cafe in search of Magnus Carlsen.

My morning routine is getting pretty dialed, and indeed today was no different. Wake up at 7:30am, feel groggy as hell for a few minutes, stretch and groan and contemplate going back to sleep, and then finally launch myself out of bed, not unlike a young Romanian gymnast. Then I put the kettle on, always the most critical part of any morning. Lately I’ve been drinking English breakfast tea, which is wonderful but also requires eating something. If I drink it on an empty stomach the nausea is real. So there’s the tea and then all the shit I add to it, like Lion’s Mane, golden tea mixture, and today and today only, Bulletproof collagen along with Kerrygold butter. If I’m not superhuman in the next 30 minutes then something’s wrong. All these good things I’ve put in my body, though to be fair the mixture smelled like refuse, mostly because of the collagen powder, which is essentially ground-up cow. Mildly disgusting.

After the tea I move onto the dancing and the staring out the window. Both of these are pretty self-explanatory. For the dancing I put on music and gyrate to it, softly, shaking the boat, and for the looking out the window I swap out the wood planks of the hatch with clear plexiglass ones. And then I stand there looking out. Today I watched a group of geese swim by. And then a juvenile seagull landed about ten feet from my boat, looking like it was looking for something. I opened the hatch.

“Can I help you?” I said.

“Hungry as balls,” the young seabird said. “Need eat.”

“Your grammar is atrocious,” I said. “Subject, predicate, noun!”

At which point the seagull turned its back to me and defecated.

It’s cold and I’m afraid Billy is dying. Billy is the succulent who, you’ll remember, I recently decided was an “outside plant,” aka “dead plant.” His leaves, or whatever you call them, are turning brown. And yet I feel he’s happier up top on deck, in the world, with at least a fighting chance, than down here in the boat getting overwatered by me and watching me dance. No one, as far as I know, observe these little private dance sessions. They’re absolutely critical to my mental health. When I’m in Seattle I don’t dance very much, and it’s a shame. When I’m in Latin America I dance constantly. But in Seattle almost never. So I’ve decided to fix that with a little dance therapy every morning. I suggest you try it.

Part 2

The other part of my morning routine, also critical, is the meditation. Let me make something abundantly clear: meditation for me is not some trance-like state (except when it is). It’s basically me just observing my breathing. Resting my mind on my breathing, some might call it. It’s a chance for the mind to stop its constant rumination on the last or projection towards the future. It’s a chance for my brain to slip into alpha waves instead of its usual beta. Maybe even theta. Maybe even Delta? I have noticed that it’s much easier to meditate in a quiet place, like a church. I have also noticed that the effects become more apparent with regular practice, preferably at least twice a day. Thrice might even be preferable. I’ve noticed that in the afternoon my mind tends to become restless, probably a product of fatigue. Meditation is a good way to kind of reset the mind. Coax it from its wandering. But I don’t expect anything of meditation, and I think that’s critical. I don’t expect to have some amazing experience. I don’t expect to have visions. I don’t expect everything in the world to instantly be perfect.

It’s Halloween, and I’m reminded of this every time I look up and see an unexpected ghoul. The cashier at Whole Foods looks like she just wandered out of a cemetery. My costume today is lacking. I’m dressed like a hipster fisherman, with skinny pants and a wool sweater. Will Full get any trick or treaters tonight? I doubt it. The liveaboard community isn’t exactly rife with children. Plus the big no trespassing signs at the beginning of the dock might ward off any potential trick or treaters.

It’s sunny in Seattle once again. There’s no rain in the forecast. A week of rain and now who knows when it will rain again. It’s sun and cold for the moment. But at night with the space heater turned up full blast and a down comforter draped on my person, I’m quite comfortable. My living situation is simple. A 27-foot sailboat. A small sink. A table. An electric tea kettle. And a dying plant on the deck above me. Panchita in the parking lot. La Mala, who I haven’t talked about, wedged in between the side of the boat and the fridge. I haven’t talked about La Mala yet. La Mala is my surfboard. Or one of my surfboards. She’s 6’1″ and boasts (loudly) 32 liters of volume. She’s fast and responsive and kind of hard to ride. The other day at Westport I rode her in well overhead conditions. On the bigger waves she was content to just go straight. She likes speed and plenty of it. Our relationship is only budding now, but I feel like by spring it’ll blossom. Sometimes the best relationships are the ones that develop the slowest. So those are the inanimate objects in my life: Panchita, Full, Billy and La Mala. Add my neighbors and the constant array of waterfowl plying the waters near the boat, and you have yourself a vibrant ecosystem of conviviality. For now though I better go. Carlo Rovelli beckons.

Part 3

I feel like I fucked up. Maybe I should’ve gone surfing today. I wish I were surfing right now.

Instead I’m in the U-Bookstore cafe drinking an English breakfast and thinking and about how most of us spend our lives striving. Constantly striving. Can you think of anyone who’s content with their life as it is? You might be able to. I certainly can’t. Well, I can think of one person, but she’s very far away in southern Chile. She’s content to listen to Chopin in the afternoon and talk to geese and pet her cats. And drink the occasional cup of coffee and smoke the occasional cigarette. Her striving is limited to finite tasks she’s more than capable of fulfilling, like painting a sign for the cabins they rent or drawing a picture of a goat. She doesn’t waste time yearning for her life to be wildly different. She doesn’t waste time lamenting things she can’t control. She’s always talking about how she feels intensely happy but if someone from the “outside world” were to scrutinize her life they’d see an old woman taking walks, listening to music, and petting cats. You might think this would be lonely. But she’s built her own little paradise in southern Chile, and it’s one of enjoying the smaller, intangible things in life. It’s one of enjoying the fruits of one’s labor (in the case of painting the signs), but without desire for recognition or monetary renumeration. I’ve had the fortune of spending many an afternoon with this woman, talking, sharing a mate, smoking a cigarette, listening to music. I’m fortunate to call her a friend and, though she would dread this word but not understand it because it’s in English, a mentor. How lucky I am to have a mentor! Someone who wants my happiness and nothing more. I trust the advice of very few people in this world, because very few people in the world are me and thus, in the immortal words of the movie Sideways, “don’t know my plight.” But I trust this wonderful Chilean woman who spent much of her life exiled in France and then in northern Mexico, this kindred spirit who I met only because I was hitchhiking and her also wonderful daughter in law deigned to pick me up, this sage who even in her 80s is strong enough to slam doors with a swift kick.

But back to the University Bookstore. Back to reality. I’m going to finish this tea and then stroll across campus, lapping up the sun. Not thinking about how I wish I was surfing because I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice the time required for the drive and if you’re not prepared for the rain you shouldn’t complain about not having the green.

You know what I’m saying?

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