Friday, August 17, 2012


For this little tangent you will need: the image of an animal stretching. That deep, amazing full-body elongation. Every toe on every paw, eyes closed shut in the overwhelming pleasure of it, completely lengthening, tail out, ears up or flat, and just when you are marveling at how pleasurable the whole thing looks, they reach out just a bit more, maybe arch their backs and go flat out, or spread everything so wide you can see every little hair stand up and get completely involved. And then a quick tuck into a spiral, they are ready for the grand finale--a nap. Just watching them makes you want to stretch and maybe you even do. So:

I had been coordinating a bunch of logistics including taking care of someone who needed help at every step. I was anxious as hell, fretting over getting to the right spot, directions in hand, the person in place, chatting easily as if nothing were fraught, racing because for once I was a little late and might actually miss getting the person to the next caretaker. As I raced I noticed there was almost no gas in the car. The little light had even come on. With all the anxiety around the whole scene I knew this was like the final, dumb sitcom joke but still I let myself get completely floored by the possibility that I would not only run out of gas but would make my friend miss her ride. 

Two seconds later it was over; I found the site, the ride was still there, and out of the parking lot I tore, still racing. Out of sheer habit. 

Of course there was a gas station right down the next block. And of course plastered all over its pumps were out of order signs. 

I jammed the gas pedal (for some reason when I'm lost or out of gas I actually drive faster, which is several shades of stupid) and raced down the next block. There, in full corporate glory was a bigass gas station, with 10 pumps to choose from. I filled up and headed back down the road, flipping on the radio. Some perfect song played and I realized I hadn't been breathing normally for probably hours. I slowed down. Inhaled a huge breath. Took stock of all the logistics of the last half hour and realized I had done every one of them.

But instead of being saturated with relief I had hurriedly started a new list, the next hour's list, the endless list. And not just of tasks, but of things to worry about. Most not under my control. The voice known as the-one-that-I-wish-would-come-more-often said, slow down, take a minute and bask in this.

So I did. It was spring and the sun was truly out, the air so sweet I could almost feel it suffusing my cells. My body began to relax and I thought of those animals stretching, how they do it with every corpuscle involved. So I did that with every thought and sensation of that moment only. And everything that had already been wonderful simply got better, like when you stretch. Oxygen and blood flooded the body of my mind until it expanded into pure pleasure. I lingered, amazed that while it felt fantastic, the longer I stayed, stretching into it, it kept getting even better. I realized that right there in the car I was getting high. With merely an orientation.

Later when I thought of this marvelous moment I pondered how when something terrible happens it's seared into your body and your memory. That's partly why it's so terrible. You never forget it, you remember every part of it, how your body felt, what you were thinking or doing, where you were. Because you stay with it, and it deepens. But not so the great moments, at least not so much with adults. I realized I had done that instinctively, had seared the pleasure right into my body. Like animals do. Why we love to watch them do that so much. I find myself waiting now for just an ordinary, good moment, so I can try it again.

(Please visit this site for more pictures by this wonderful photographer.) 


Anonymous said...

Okay. I'm going to go stretch REAAAALLLLY big. BRB.

Ava Apple said...

Wow Mafu. That was profound. And something I so needed to hear. I could feel my heart slow down and my shoulders relax down away from my ears. From now on each time I see my Chihuahuas stretch it will remind me...