Archive for December, 2006

Anatomy trains 10 years on

December 28, 2006

After 10 years of sitting with the Anatomy Trains, I am willing (though I remain) to be convinced that the myofascial meridians have less anatomical significance than they were invested with in the first edition of the book. Recent criticism of the method employed in generating them may require a rethink. A dissection of an unembalmed cadaver is a necessary next step – any volunteers?

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As I delve into writing the second edition (which will mostly be a ‘refiguring’ – new pictures, now colors – of the book, less of a rewrite), I am more than ever convinced of the clinical significance of the trains. The ‘single-muscle theory’ – the very idea that there are these individual entities called ‘a muscle’ seems a limited view at best, a pernicious delusion at worst. The successful strategies that are arising out of the Anatomy Trains point-of-view more than justify any anatomical liberties taken,

Walking in the Dark

December 16, 2006

Here at the 44th parallel and in this solstice, by the time I run out of writing energy, it’s dark.  I began my walk at 5, and with the clouds there was no trace of light left.  I carried a little reflector light for when I was walking on the road, but something moved me to plunge off into the woods.

(Actually, what moved me was this: I had let Quan drive herself to her doctor’s appointment, when she was in bad enough shape that I should have done it.  The walk was an act of penance and of prayer to keep her safe while driving in an altered state, when I should have been driving her.  Like holding Misty’s plane up for her when she flies up here, woods walking in the dark was my way of holding Quan’s car on the road.)

Though I long ago practiced some of Carlos Castaneda’s techniques for walking in the dark, I was in no mood, and no longer of an age, for running high-kneed with curled fingers through a wood studded with granite boulders, old logging truck ruts, and darkened trees, the way I did in the green belt above Boulder in the ’70’s.

But I dropped into my hara, letting the ‘eye’ of my belly see the coming terrain, sensitizing the bottom of my feet to feel their way onto the next surface.  For a couple of minutes my literal eyes struggle to see, but then the mind relaxes and goes all receptive, and the skin on my front becomes an eye all its own.  At first I am walking down a woods path, but then I try my luck in the thick of the brush.  I stop for a minute, hearing the night birds, the scolding chirrups of a squirrel I have disturbed, and the clicks of the insects. Then I move forward, over the edge of the road and down toward the sound of the stream.

My hands are up in a kind of prayer position to protect my eyes from the branches, but by now my feet are sure, even on the slope.  Crossing the stream is problematic – I use the little red flasher to see the log, but cross it in the dark, blessing the soft-soled shoes that allow my feet a little prehansility.  On the other side, I step beside a root and fall through into some underlying water – so much for my Don Juan invulnerability.  I wring out my sock and continue, chastened.

But the rest of the walk home is a delight for the nose, skin, and ears – sensitive to the sigh of cold air off the hill with its promise of dew, the squidge of the soil in a record-breaking unfrozen mid-December – it should be cracking underfoot by now, the acrid whiff of horse shit as I come around the corner towards the barn, the startled ducks’ wings slap on the pond, then whine in the air, Camelot’s nicker, Morgan’s bark, my crunch on the driveway, the click of the doorknob, the smell of chainsaw oil in the shed, sawdust in the garage, the light switch on the right – and I am back in the sighted world.

Quan came home, safe but tired, much later.

Impeach

December 16, 2006

I have come to the conviction we must move forward with impeachment. The sonofabitch has itched for impeachment from the first moment he took a net serve of an election – that fell his way with Daddy’s help – and mandated it into a literal crusade for arms dealers and oil companies. Selling the war with ever-changing ephemeral motivations should have merited an uprising, but we all let him do it, while we all muttered our foreboding and a few Cassandra’s like Krugman and Obama prophesied to no one’s ears. No one, with such an experienced team in place – Powell, Cheney, Rumsfeld – expected such riveted incompetence.

There is, besides our own sins of omission making us complicit, the argument – which I have nursed myself until now despite my outer lip service against the war – that impeachment would be divisive and difficult for the country, that it is only two more years, that we would end up with Cheney, which would be no better, that nothing would get done in the meantime…

But all these arguments pale before the horrible fact of what has been done in our name, in America’s name, just coming home now since the election to the majority of Americans, long-shielded by the administration’s control of the message. This tragedy, on the scale of Vietnam but without even the diminsihed moral force of Johnson and McNamara behind it, needs to be aired, grieved, and the stain expunged from the national fabric. Vietnam stuck in the national craw for 30 years – only going through the ritual of impeachment now will give us a hope of recovering from this debacle in Iraq.

Impeachment will do nothing for the Iraqi people, but neither will anything else. We will have to live with this unraveling and watch it murder more children on our television screens. No one’s saying Saddam was great, or that the Irais bear no responsibility, but we have made it so much worse, for ourselves and for them. The insurgency won by controlling the message, the narrative. Rumsfeld controlled territory, and viewed the war in that way – logistics, command, technology – while the insurgents used time and the message to bring the giant to its knees.

We saw this begin in the Korean war (WWII was really about grunts on the ground, and the land under their feet), and the Vietnam War was the first where the message became more powerful than the bombs. The wily old Muslims running the Iraqi insurgency knew this. Like Rome, in this declining empire that is America, we spend more and more of our national treasure on smaller and less effective wars – one of the sure signs, along with the widening disparity between the top tier and the bottom – of the approaching Kali Yuga. Learn to grow food – it will be startlingly expensive – and hope the changing weather will allow you a crop.

The Israelis have turned into the ‘Nazis’ of their own land – we see these reversals all the time. Is there any reason to think that the fate of the Iraqis – a limited life of food staples and no electricity – won’t ultimately become ours? How long will such a thing take? I know, I am old, so I become apocalyptic – it may be generations, not decades as I think, or years as Quan thinks.

But meanwhile the last election shows us that we still have democracy, that Diebold doesn’t have a hammerlock on the vote counting and Rove is not an unassailable genius. To have a country worth living in, we must build the groundswell for impeachment. It will be the country-healing equivalent of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Impeach the sitting president, for the sake of the tattered remnants of the American dream.

Forms of Death

December 11, 2006

skater_05.gifYesterday I was surrounded by dead bodies who were arranged in such a lifelike way. I was leading a tour of Bodyworlds 2 in Boston; the exhibits, though still, exuded movement – especially Von Hagen’s dancer and yoga poses, ball kicker, the exploded person, the diver going two directions at once, and even the casts of arteries and the split camel spoke of inner movement, red with passion.

Today, at home in the silver snow, another form of death: It’s been a bad week in Quan’s rabbitat: through happenstance or some strange disease, bunnies are dying. Perdu was waiting for me, outside in a box. He, like the exhibits, seemed so lifelike, except in the eye. Von Hagens obviously finds the same – the exhibits had glass eyes – especially the pregnant woman, so full of promise and small inverted baby, so obviously dead, yet so imbued with life with her eyelashes and insouciant pose, and green glass eyes.

Perdu’s eye is a little shrunken, a little open, I have to convince myself to do as I’m requested – an autopsy (‘see for yourself’) to see if I can determine why he died. I grasp his cold but not entirely rigorous form, and insinuate the shears through his fur, split him and fold the skin back, exposing the belly muscles. These also are divided, and the fatty omentum removes easily to expose the organs – shining clean, movable – again so lifelike.

And so similar to us – all the organs the same, the muscles nearly the same, the chemistry all but identical – it takes as much complexity in anatomy and physiology to build something as simply motivated as a rabbit as it does to build us.
I wish I could find something, but nothing is awry. The guts are intact, the lungs and heart seem normal, the stomach, full of carrots, has a little gas, but after two days, even in the cold, what do you expect? Quan insists her book will be called The Fragile Rabbit, and I’ve been agitating for the Agile Rabbit or somethig more positive, but now, looking at the packed, shiny, and scrupulously clean organs in the cold body, consigning him back to the box where he will be carried to the woods, I am inclined to agree with her. I have no knowledge, and little solace, and a lurking dread of my own fragility. I have a friend who has just told us she’s ill, she’s younger than me.

Another rabbit, Biscuit, died tonight. Given that she has 100, and it’s been years, she’s been lucky, but now that it has hit us, whatever plague or run of bad luck this is, one feels helpless – but not like a few weeks ago, when the storm (see Black Clad Char) made me feel like an ant. Now I feel like the pitiful helpless giant America has become, standing over the little charge it had inadvertantly let die, with big clumsy hands, wondering what we did wrong when we had the best of intentions. This is 4 rabbits gone in two weeks; I hope this is the end of this run. It’s a gibbous moon tonight.

This war

December 5, 2006

How quickly since the election the situation in Iraq has deteriorated!  There is now general agreement that we have lost – not misplaced, not failed, but simply lost – the whole venture.  Lives are wasted, a country destabilized, Iran emboldened, ground lost.  Events on the ground have raced ahead of Bush, the Iraq commission, and probably Al Qaeda as well.  This failure will set the US foreign policy back 20 years.  We Americans have delivered our enemies, such as they are, fodder for a thousand resentments.

May we remember this the next time.

Decorations

December 5, 2006

In this Sarasota suburb where I am living at the moment, the evening walk is littered with small ranch houses, most with the most gaudy light displays.  Tonight I have seen:

The usual creches – wise men and shepherds; reindeer – white and lit; flashing signs to the North Pole; curling pseudo- pine trees; penguins on air-blown igloos; a penguin in a snow bubble; huge snowmen and Santa Clauses; Hannukah blue and white bulbs that electronically ‘sing’ Chirstmas carols (!); the inevitable icicles from the eaves; and the even more inevitable palms wrapped in colored lights.

And even a patriotic Christmas display in red, white, and blue.  Happy Holidays.

Insomnia

December 5, 2006

“I’ll rest when I’m dead” has been my motto for some time, and it’s worked pretty well.  But lately, this whole thing – Anatomy Trains, KMI, managing Clarks Cove – has got so big that I cannot possibly keep up; in fact I will never catch up.  So my choice is to relax amidst the chaos.

It’s a strategy, but one that will take some learning.  Last week, in the mist of launching this site against some pretty heavy headwinds from the designers, I just kept calming myself – until I came up sick, emotionally drained, and depressed.  I now think my occasional (or some would say frequent) shows of temper have an important balancing effect.

Still, I need to stay relaxed amidst the hurly-burly of all this development around me.

Specificity

December 4, 2006

Although well through andropause or ‘manopause’, I still find my body obeying me pretty well, except in the area of metabolism – losing weight is harder, and caring about it is harder: There are so many other more important things, I am not in the sexual market, and food is a greater pleasure now that I have slowed a little.

But one area that has cropped up recently is that I can pull muscles more easily than before.  It happened when I was pulling wire up from the old rabbitat (www.rabbitats.com) ealier this year, and this time when I was pulling thorny hedge roots from outside the summer cottage.  There was a ping, and a sharp pain in my forearm, and I had to immediately stop.  Then it faded for a while, but settled in my ring finger:  Anytime I hit it or bumped it or gripped with it, it reminded me, sharply.

A week later I can go for quite a while without feeling it – guitar playing, gripping the drill or hammer, doing bodywork.  I can find it, but only if I curl the ring finger about halfway, and then press in against resistance in a very specific oblique direction.  I feel it in the forearm.

Here’s the news: There are no muscles specifically aimed at the ring finger in the forearm.  But I guess there are.

Remembrances of Things Small

December 3, 2006

To avoid the people waiting to ask me to make decisions (I am not the decider), I snuck out the back door, down the hill and into the woods, even though with all this rain, it’s very soggy, but my boat boots take care of that.

The wind is strong – another reason to go woods-ish: the tops of the trees susurrate and lean together with squeaks like teenagers whispering to each other, but down on the woods floor it is silent, still – squidgy, though.  The cold is finally biting in – enough to feel raw, but not enough to freeze the woods floor for my feet or the horses’.

Across the log that spans the stream at the head of the pond, and up the hill, passing trees like warriors on a battlefield, grappling with their branches to pull my body past them, using my arms because my boots slip on the wet leaves.

Reaching the road behind the boatyard, I head for the school for a drink of water, having forgot to bring any along in my haste to leave.  I call it the school because it was my old school – two rooms on the first floor, Mrs. McClain and Mrs Thompson, and I was there through sixth grade, so ’61 or so’ but then they consolidated.  Now it’s the firehouse, with two trucks in the room where I learned arithmetic and Lucy Robinson was so emarrassed one day she peed on the floor.  And a bunch of equipment where David Rice had to read his essay at belt level because he had an erection and Thompie caught him and Cheryl behind the paper stand doing what everyone else but her knew they were doing several hours of the day.  How she chased him through that room, hitting him and yelling – but when she got to the verb, she didn’t know what to say, “David Rice, what were you doing, what were you…fighting with that girl for?”  Well, some of us didn’t know what petting was, but we sure as hell knew it wasn’t fighting.

I feel all this looking through the windows, after I taste the sweet water that’s been coming through that faucet since I was a kid.  I’ve done this before, it’s not a surprise.

But when I come ’round the corner to go home, I see the door to the upstairs is open – it’s usually locked.  The high wind must have done it, I guess, but I walk in and up the stairs to the large community room, home of our Halloween parties and graduations, and nativity plays.  How small the room looks now – how tiny the stage that yawned before me when I was playing a wise man or preparing to sing.  How large the audience looked in this one-horse room with long pew-like benches.  It’s all dusty, hollow-sounding, the heater in the back of the room, with the handmade railing around it to keep us from falling against the hot, brown metal.

I take a turn up the stairs to the town office, and remember Robert Woodward, for so many years the town treasurer, so small his feet seldom made it to the ground from these chairs, but maintaining his dignity and composure nonetheless.  Large men in red and black checked shirts always surrounded him, and though they joshed him, they kept his counsel.

In the attic I find the chairs we used in the school – small metal things I use often in my lectures: the image, I mean, of children niched into ill-fitting desks, learning their habits of slumping and neck hyperextension.

Outside I close the door, that others might not make the journey.  It’s mine; it’s private.  That unused room full of pipes and fire retardents has Francis Koch missing the hula hoop record because a wasp flew in his face and he freaked and stopped.  Bobbing for apples with Kathy Farrin was the nearest first thing to a kiss that happened in my 5th grade.  And shining forth on Adeste Fidelis with Doris Sproul may have been my finest moment.  The room was  gargantuan, the crowd was huge, it’s roar audible down the road.  i’m sure of it.

The Next War

December 2, 2006

Today I got a T-shirt that says:

“I’m already against the next war.”