Thursday, April 18, 2013

Four Speakers

I lost my balance in yoga class the other night and it was all John Lennon's fault. I was in tree pose which looks something like this:

This also confirms your suspicions that I actually am a cartoon. Anyway, my instructor plays music throughout class, which is ordinarily not a problem. It flows with the class, and it's usually groovy music with Indians chanting things that I don't understand. The other night he even snuck in a song from The Life Aquatic soundtrack, one of my favorites, with Portugeuse singer Seu Jorge covering David Bowie songs, and I was fine. But Monday night he played "Across the Universe" and it was all over.

"Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup they slither wildly as they slip away across the universe/Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting through my open mind possessing and caressing me." I want to write the moment I hear it. I know he was probably singing about drugs but it reminds me of how I feel when I write and the way the words flow through me. "Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting through my open mind possessing and caressing me." That's what it feels like when I'm in that third place - that place where it doesn't even feel like it's me writing, something just takes over. I don't even have to try to write. Something comes in and possesses me but not in a bad way, not in like a way where I need a priest or anything. Just in a way that compels me to sit down and write something.

So when I was in tree pose and I heard those first few guitar chords and then heard him say, "Words are flowing out," I lost my balance and fell. I caught myself, I mean I didn't fall over like this:

I just lost my footing and didn't quite get it back until the song was over.

Music has that effect on me. I have a difficult time writing without it and it's usually what motivates me to write in the first place. The words don't even have to be good, the energy just has to go with what I'm trying to say. I wrote The Daily Dylanson Obituaries almost entirely to "Godless" by the Dandy Warhols. I listened to the whole album Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia in a loop, but sometimes I would just repeat that one song because when I heard the opening I could see my main character Judy riding her bike in lonely circles around her neighborhood and I could see Sammy lighting a cigarette and taking a walk because he can't sleep.

Other times, it just echoes what I feel and the echo comes back to me twice as loud as it sounds in my heart. Sometimes, the music is so loud it's like the four chambers of my heart are four big speakers that gush sound and blood.  Especially if I'm feeling broken-hearted or angry.

One night a couple of weeks ago my yoga instructor had us lie down in a restorative pose towards the end of class. I was on my back with a bolster along my spine, so my torso and chest were higher than my head and legs. I know it sounds weird, but it feels good. Or that is to say it usually does. That night my lower back ached, and I kept squirming on my bolster trying to relax.

"This is supposed to feel good," my instructor said. "So if anyone is feeling any discomfort, and would like me to help, just raise your hand."

My hand went up. I used to be shy about having the teacher adjust me in class because it meant a stranger touching me, but I've learned two things about myself: one, I would rather ask for help than lie uncomfortably for ten minutes, and two, I like it when my teacher adjusts me...what? Look, he's got strong hands and he asks me if I'm ok. With that kind of attention once a week I can survive being single. But that's beside the point. My point is, I raised my hand and he knelt down by my head.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"I'm ok," I said, sitting up. "But my lower back hurts."

"Your lower back? Ok," he said, sounding certain that he knew what to do about that. "Lie back."

I laid back down and expected him to do something with my legs or maybe he'd swap out one hip bone for the other but instead he planted a hand on each of my shoulders and pushed them down.

I cracked open like a boiled crab. Air rushed into my chest. I had to open my mouth to take it all in. Breaking open never felt so good - I felt it everywhere. My chest, my back, my neck, and with the rush of air and the rush of relief in my sore muscles, came a rush of sound. The four speakers of my heart exploded with music, and echoed all the pain and frustration I've felt lately and it sounded like this

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