To Cry, “Hold, hold!”

The lateral flow tests have been negative all along, but I’ve had something – something that is finally letting go. It’s getting just a little bit easier to move around in my body. To think of running again and morning yoga.

Nothing can ever go back to normal – back to anything. It never could, though only now do I feel the truth of that acutely. The universe is in a slow deconstruction but every moment brings new (sometimes beautiful, sometimes terrifying) constellations. However fleeting each will be. Maybe the art of living is to notice, then to let go of all of them as they pass.

There has to be a reason humans have always wanted to fix their experience of the world in stone. It seems to me that classical Greek artwork is an attempt to capture the past. Because a smooth thigh is always nostalgia. The visible maps that living etches into a forearm, over a chest, are the present and the inevitable future. The present, breathing body is more threat than comfort. Every inhalation of oxygen is destructive.

In the absence of oxygen human life is measured in minutes. In the presence of oxygen, normal metabolism generates reactive species (ROS) that have the potential to cause cell injury contributing to human aging and disease.

What gives us life, inevitably kills us. So often used as a metaphor, our need to breathe is a cliche that is impossible to break down to its basic, startling truth. It is so ingrained in the art of language that it has become necessary to reverse engineer the metaphor. Breathing is like being in love with the wrong person.

Breathing is like belonging to a family, a community, a nation.

The Romans celebrated the struggle. The statues’ sinewy arms in battle with creatures real and imagined. The faces are expressive and contorted. Though still nostalgic. En medias res, we want to cry out, “Stop, stop” before it’s too late. We want to stop one another/ourselves.

But caught in stone, it is never too late. The sculpture can still generate the feeling of hope: that things will go back to normal.

I could subtitle this essay Art as Momentary Comfort.

2 Replies to “To Cry, “Hold, hold!””

  1. Like you said the other day – it sometimes frightens me how alike we are. I started writing about finding hope somewhere this morning before I even came across to read this, and wrote about biology, too. Am still writing the damn thing, too.

  2. I read once a former professional athlete talk about his ‘normal’. He had a long career – despite multiple knee surgeries. The key (he said) was to never compare yourself to yourself. Normal’ is what we are right now. Not what we once were. Doing the very best we can with who we are, who our bodies are at this point in time. I no longer struggle with all I cannot do. Running fast. Touching the rim of a basketball hoop. Having all the right words at my beck and call – so if I look up synonyms or rhymes now so be it. My poetry sings in different ways.


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