Moving through J.’s vinyasa sequences again. The post-Covid restrictions class is full but it’s also permitted to use the space at full capacity, so it isn’t a race to get a spot anymore. I have this odd sense that things are falling into place again. I recognize this moving body. This tight-tight hamstring. This good balance and grounding on the right leg.

Getting some self-confidence back. Headstands and bridges. Running. Though everything requires a push now. Every run or class or yoga session is still prefaced by an argument with myself. A frantic little search for good excuses not to.

Extended side angle and J. comes behind me and gently adjusts my ribcage, fingers, head. Somehow even in the hot room, sweating, her touch is like being nudged softly through pillows. A touch that is barely a touch, but full of connection. I think that is what makes us all fall in love with her. We love her like we love Mary Poppins. If Mary Poppins escaped from her sharp exoskeleton.

I do a half-bridge, and she sits behind my head, feet on my shoulders, and guides my ribcage upward.

I miss my morning flows. Alone. And have no good reason to not be doing them. These mornings, though, I am so aware of time. The time I have – and don’t have – all to myself. From four to seven. Yet every day I find it’s not enough.

R.’s best friend died last night. The man he has called his brother, whose parents will bury their child. Young is relative. But he was young in the “natural order” of things. I look at the calendar and am surprised to see we are halfway into March. More than halfway. And I think about B. The week of chemo she’s been through. The next one she has coming. Not that there is hope for a cure, only hope for more time. Weeks. Months. Days.

It’s never going to be enough.

I feel both greedy and wasteful. And maybe this is all the more reason to get on my mat every morning. J. asks us what we dedicate each practice session to. At the beginning and then again just before heart-openers. Is it narcissistic to dedicated it to doing the best I can? To yoking all of the aspects of the physical reality of my being in this world, to make it work somehow for the best I can do in the world, for the world?

All those platitudes: fill your cup so you can fill another’s cup. I am self-conscious of the triteness. But I keep asking my students: are we done with the irony, the sardonic attitude of post-modernism now? Can we finally be earnest again?

Maybe we need to be?

Pirandello said life is so painful we have only to laugh at it. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe life reaches a level of pain where we break through the l’umorismo and stop laughing. Where we take off the exoskeletons and are soft with one another.

Leonard is stretched out on the floor next to me.

And barking at the neighbor’s voices squeezing in through the windowsill. His concern is unconvincing. I suppose it’s nice that he feels a sense of duty.

He hasn’t moved in a half an hour.

I expect this morning’s exceptional walk along the trail was too much for his hound-sized brain. I still can’t run with this achilles tendon, so we walked this morning and took him with us. There were more exciting smells than he knew what to do with. The trail used to frighten him, so this was a big deal. He’s getting over whatever trauma he had as a pup. Slowly.

I didn’t smell stoat this morning, but I am sure Leonard did. Birds don’t interest him, but anything small and furry, or small and spikey does. Some evenings I have to play the guardian of the hedgehog while he does his business in the front yard.

I wanted to say “garden”. The front garden. As though that were a real thing in my life. Garden goes with words like cottage, and teapot. I have an A-frame house built in the 1970s and an electric water cooker. I have a mossy yard with half-hearted flower beds and derelict greenhouses. I wrote neglected first. But derelict relieves me of responsibility.

Time. I think the reason I spend so much of it trying to understand what it is, is because I do waste it. Or spin in place as it passes. All these “free” hours open up like sinkholes in the days. They don’t feel like freedom. They feel free of substance, actually. And inescapable.

Some days I can only get the work done when there is no time in which to do it. To get outside with a plan of some sort. To get upstairs and work with the paints. To fold the damned laundry.

Instead, I have an open afternoon – another open afternoon – and sit here brooding. And chiding myself when E. can hear me.

And it is not very convincing.

the grey heron sleeps
in the reeds-keeps her distance
eye on the canoes