Saturday, June 23, 2007

Clearing the Slate

I've been coming to the pool with a head teetering on melancholy, a jumbled myriad of worries. I sink into the turquoise-tinted water, stretching, doing flip-turns, feeling like a graceful moon dancer. Swimming makes me feel beautiful and elongated and calm inside my body. I glide home and sink into my work. Swimming clears the slate. It's my hydro-psycho-therapy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Jung and Rilke

First, Jung:
We must still be exceedingly careful in order not to project our own shadows too shamelessly; we are still swamped with projected illusions. If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, all and sundry, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. He lives in the "house of self-collection." Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.

     - Carl Gustav Jung, from the lecture Psychology
       and Religion (Yale, 1938)
       (I also read this passage in May Sarton's book
       Journal of a Solitude.)

Then Rilke:
You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day to the answer.

Resolve to be always beginning - to be a beginner!

     - Rainer Maria Rilke, from the book
       Rilke On Love and Other Difficulties
       by John J L Mood

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chemistry, Weather, and Habit

It's cool and gray and breezy today. I'm wearing long sleeves under my fleece pullover. The leaves rustling at the window sound like Autumn. This morning it was actually cold enough to close the windows. I am having to remind myself it's the middle of June because the weather today is making my brain think it's late September. I'd be fine with cool weather all summer. I tend to panic in the heat and humidity. I'm relieved to be feeling calm, content, and introspective after a bunch of agitated days. Once again I am reminded I am a walking chemistry set. This morning we had no milk in the house, so instead of my morning hot tea I drank cold lemonade tea, my usual summer afternoon beverage, and my brain thought it was afternoon! Are we so easily swayed by chemistry, weather, and habit? Yes, and I think it's fascinating.


The parade was amazing. Even in the drizzle people came out and filled both sides of the street. People lit up when they saw us playing music and dancing and waving. I spotted Shriners wearing clear plastic over their wool hats and decorative suits; shrink-wrapped Shriners! The sky held out until the parade was over. Then it poured.


Yesterday when I arrived at the YMCA I noticed the pearly toenails of Sheila, the lady at the front desk, who was wearing sandals. She said she paints them on the weekends and laughed. I said I tend to hide my toes because each toe looks like it was born from a different marriage! As a kid I was fascinated by the resemblance of my sister's toes to mine; hers are similar but more elongated and elegant. My half-brother's toes definitely resemble mine, and they would make me laugh because they were even goofier. Our toes were about the only place where I recognized the shared DNA between us. Mother had the original version, but her toes always looked angry.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Water Music

We're getting ready for our first parade of the season. Rehearsing the happy marching tunes last night cheered me up. Last week I played in three jams and they were all fulfilling. I am astounded at the healing power of playing music. Even when I feel wretched, it makes a home.

I'm enjoying swimming laps again, too. It's enhancing my strength for my horn playing, not to mention making a calm room in my brain. Lately I seem to especially need the thinking, underwater time. My hypo-allergenic stress-busting visceral place is in the turquoise waters. My body remembers how good this is, how swimming permeates all aspects of my water-soluble life. My muscles smile, my skin laughs, my head clears, and I calm down. I'm a water jock/junkie. There are so many of us at the pool; all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors.