Walking Fremont at Night | Road to Recovery

Not even 9am and I’ve put a General in. Really seizing the day. My knee feels significantly worse but that’s due to self massage. I’ve been massaging the shit out of it. The stiffness worries me, though. It’s still quite stiff and it’s been over two weeks since the injury. God, I want an MRI. How can I get them to give me an MRI. Maybe today I leave for Mexico?

The power did not go off on the boat last night. The heater stayed on. I slept well. Yesterday was sunny in Seattle and today promises more of the same. In fact, it’s only supposed to rain two days in the next week or so. So not a terrible time to hang around a little longer. Wait to see if the MRI referral gets approved. Check SHAK every 15 minutes. Revel in the glory of its meteoric rise. Feel the heater buzzing at my feet. Hang out with friends. Walk to Whole Foods. Read good books. Watch my succulent become increasingly healthy. Watch my green queen become increasingly not.

Yesterday I went to Fremont for dinner, aka PCC, aka I bought a bunch of goodies and then went to Ophelia’s bookshop with the idea that I wasn’t leaving there without buying a book. I bought three: Emotional Alchemy, by Tara Bennett-Goleman, Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coelho, and The Greatest Treasure-Hunting Stories Ever Told, edited by Charles Elliott with contributions from such heavy hitters as Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne. I did not deliberate long when buying these books. The whole escapade took about 10 minutes. The bookstore was packed, which I was happy to see. People do not read enough.

After Ophelia’s I walked over to the new SBP in Fremont, which was an experience both amazing and traumatic. Traumatic because it pained me to see such beautiful blocs, such a beautiful climbing facility — the lobby glowing in the night winter air — and not be able to climb. Amazing because the gym looks amazing, and because I climbed up a set of stairs on the outside and just stood there, looking in like a boy looking at a Christmas tree display in a department store, watching two crushers climb in the corner. One of them flashed an orange. One of them flashed a pink. “Enough, Mark,” I said. “Enough.”

I’ve been sleeping well ever since I gave up caffeine. I’ve been feeling more creative. It is important to let your mind rest if you want to be creative. There is nothing more creative than an idle mind. I don’t mean idle in the sense that it’s not working. Our minds are always working. I mean idle in the sense that you’ve given it some time to just wander. Sometimes my mind is my greatest enemy, but ultimately it’s my dearest friend.

Giving up caffeine was hard. The first day was fine because I was coming down off a wicked yerba mate high, my neurons still sizzling far into the afternoon. But the next day I woke up with a headache, irritable. It felt good to be irritable and not be ashamed of it. I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. My mind becomes more my enemy when I abuse by doing things like drinking too much caffeine. With caffeine when I get irritable I have a tendency to discount my irritable feelings because I think they’re coming from the caffeine. But with no substances governing my brain I know that the irritability is real and needs to be respected. It’s easier to respect and honor your shadow when you know it hasn’t been provoked by a substance. Much of my twenties and thirties have had me ashamed of my shadow, constantly trying to suppress it or sweep it under the rug. Anytime I felt jealous or angry or insecure I told myself these feelings were unacceptable. When you read lots of books on Buddhism and Zen and Taoism you start following an unachievable ideal. Would the Buddha be jealous? Of course not. The Buddha sat by a river for 16 hours a day watching the ripples and eating rice. Would a Zen master be perturbed by someone calling her a name? Of course not. She would only smile. But I am not a Zen master, or even remotely enlightened. I experience all of these feelings, and sometimes to a deafening, heart-wrenching degree. And to want to rip them out of myself, to want to excise them, to want to slice them out of my brain like a surgeon might do with a scalpel — that’s not healthy.

SHAK seems to be finding some support at the 112 mark.

My boat is littered with books but because space is a premium they don’t last long. Most of them come, stay for awhile, and then get shuffled off to one of the little lending libraries so common on the Seattle streets. Some of them have stayed — I’ll never give them away, titles like Book 5 of My Struggle and The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. The bouldering guidebooks will also stay. Bouldering guidebooks are something I’m happy to accumulate. Even if I’ve never bouldered in Tennessee or have any intention of going there soon I wouldn’t think it a terrible idea to buy a guidebook for that region. You buy a guidebook and next thing you know you’re planning a trip there. Motivation doesn’t breed action, but the other way around.

I washed my hair with distilled white vinegar last night.

It’s time to get off the boat now. It’s time to do a long walk and see how my knee holds up. And by “long walk” I of course mean walk to my car and drive to Whole Foods. Because I like to be amongst the things, the commerce! I like to be amongst the bars…