The Bird and Its Reflection

I’ve fallen behind again reading Rilke.

Last night I lay on the shakti mat and fell asleep listening to a podcast again. I never thought I was someone who would sleep on a bed of nails. And to be honest, I feel an odd sense of shame when I consider how pleasurable I find it. How reliant I’ve become on the settling into the pain to relax. It’s like the burn from a shot of whiskey – and the slow warmth that spreads through the body. And I suppose that’s where the guilt comes from.

We transgress pain for pleasure – then we pay for pleasure with shame? Again I should speak for myself, but on the other hand, the culture does a very fine job of shaming us for our pleasures.

As far as the shakti mat goes, I think it’s related to pressure points. When I worked as a massage therapist, I would push on a knot in someone’s trapezius and visualize the fibers letting go. Every cell a tiny fist of frustration, opening – vulnerable as a palm. Sometimes it was unbearably intimate.

A palm can hold the tiniest pool of water. Life. I was taught God holds us in the palm of His hand. Just like I’d held tadpoles in my palm once. They were at my mercy.

I suppose it’s my Christian upbringing. The (historically incorrect, but nonetheless powerful) images of the stigmata: bleeding palms. A paradoxical image of comfort and torture from my childhood.

Sometimes I think it’s odd we have a word like paradox. And that we use it to label discrete events when I believe that if there is background music in the world, it is dissonance – paradox.

the snow is silent
but announces its presence
in each step I take –
in the rhythm of the dog’s paws
scurrying after the hare

a mallard takes flight
and the still morning air cracks –
the fog of my breath
hangs for a moment then darts
towards the pale, setting moon

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