detail of raku ceramic objects, 2002

In my yoga/Qigong class this week my body faltered.

I hadn’t the strength to pull myself up from face down on the floor where we had been practicing a pose.

I was trying to get on all fours to then pull myself up to the chair.

My hand severely curled in made my arm a useless club and my reserve of strength was nil.

My teacher was at my side asking how he could help but I remained mute. I couldn’t answer him because I had no idea myself how to do what I wanted to do.

I wriggled there on the floor like a worm (albeit a beautiful worm) trying so hard to use my library of muscles to achieve my goal.

The fact the entire class was waiting and likely watching me never occurred to me because I was in a zone I know well: It felt quite similar to my gymnastic days when I needed to send my consciousness into my body and scope things out in a millisecond-

If I move this here will that there shift into place and will I achieve the desired outcome?

In gymnastics, things have to move fast. In my body these days, moving at all is the quest.

I wondered later: had grace abandoned me altogether? Why would I even care? I was trying to rise..

I chose the image above because the ceramic objects have a surface called: NAKED RAKU.

I coated them with a slurry of liquid clay and then fired them up in the kiln.

When they had reached red-hot they were removed and pitched into a container of dead leaves to smolder.

When cool they next went into a bin of water to be cooled washed. The gorgeous cracking pattern you see happens from the shock of temperature changes and the carbon in the burning leaves getting into the cracks.

I, myself, could never have created such beautiful fracturing on my own. It happened because of the heat and fire.

Is a worm less beautiful in it’s down-lowness

Than the gymnast swinging from parallel bars?

These are the kind of thoughts I choose to hang out in

Because shame and contraction and anger will kill me.

Better to love the worm.

PS- the genesis of my extreme weakness was human error: I did not eat enough before class and had no fuel. No gas- no gonna get much of anywhere..


2 Responses to “Worm”

  1. webster on February 25th, 2012

    I commend you for taking the yoga/Qigong class. Hitting the wall ( or in this case, the floor) when running on empty is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how it may have piqued the interest of the other students in the class. It’s a good thing you figured out what went wrong. It would be so easy to just blame it on MS, when that was just a part of the story. I will bet that you keep a small supply of energy bars in your pack in the future. If you do, you will probably never need them.

    Be well,

  2. Linda Burke on March 14th, 2012

    Your story reminds me of an image that is often used in Buddhist teachings. The image of how swords are tempered and made undefeatable by forging in hot fire and being hammered and then stuck into cold water. That is how we become stronger every day — strong enough to win over any obstacle that we encounter. Congratulations on not getting stuck in negativity when facing that very real challenge. I look forward to attending a class like that in the future. Always wichin you the best,

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