Stories

Down Dog

Copyright (c) 2004 J.D. Chapman All Rights Reserved

When I am working, a cornucopia of tasks stretches out into the unforeseeable distance -- a plank-and-rope bridge ending so far past my horizon that I can't imagine how it's suspended. And yet no matter how much work I do, no matter how I hustle or toil extra hours to induce my productivity tools, the work will still grow into a rambling path ahead of me. After twenty years of perennial expansion I now just allow the work to flow past me without bond; I acquiesce to the next task and do it, one step at a time -- I'm unstirred if it's the final task, if it's on schedule, or if I'm working equitably with anyone else. Work is a pleasant occupation, yes, and the view from the center of the span is spectacular, but at the same time the journey passes like a gray fog: like the history bytes of web sites that I have visited it all blends into a daytime life of no consequence to the world. After forty or fifty years go by it's selling cars, sending out mail, fixing the dispirited, just the movement of stuff. It is an honorable service, but now it is just the standard day's service and I waive it to pass until I rest my head every evening on my down pillow.

As this cloud of work envelops me with the swirls and eddies that I leave in my wake, I lose my self to the disorientation and distractions of my own imagination. The droplets of condensation on the plastic lid of my coffee cup, the love of the pretty woman sitting ahead of me on the bus, the chatter of teens jostling each other on the sidewalk, the whoosh and flue of dust as a bus passes within inches of the curb -- these events wash over me in colors and sounds and smells and then they are gone completely. It could be tomorrow or next month or ten years from now -- I will still have my memories and the love of my parents and my children; the world will continue to pass through its newsworthy traumas and lights will still turn on at dusk and dwindle to greet a glorious particolored sky each morning. My brain wafts through the thoughts of billions of minds and occasionally grazes a wayward course, but the large universe still doesn't need me and I will follow whatever path I can cultivate. My observation is not one of despair, it is further than resignation, it collapses acceptance. It is peace and comfort -- a merging with the vapor of the cloud itself: a complete self-embossing into the background.

I have been moving into my apartment in little bits and pieces. Well, that's not completely true -- I moved all at once, but then everything is still in boxes and I'm dawdling to put things away. Instead of having the stress and malaise I usually associate with a change in residence, I am embracing my small daily habits and rules for living; as my boxes flower open I reestablish my ethos from my prior inhabitance. As I unpack I shrink rather than enlarge... the unwrapping subdues me with my hidden power and humility. My desires and complaints dissolve as I rocket into a gigantic cloud, my vision blurs, my hearing sensitized by an enormous muffled quietness, I lose velocity at the same time that I lose my direction. I arrive at the heavenly place of nowhere. I have cloud crashed.

I put on a CD... it's the same music whether it's acid jazz, ambient nature, Mozart, Wagner, or Pink Floyd. It is the backbeat of the music that allies with my floating in space, that sustains me along all the points coalescing the accomplishments and tragedies in my life. The music becomes the color -- it becomes the syncopation, the spaces between the music are the diversions that I call my work. The silence between the notes is the sound of the cloud, the whoosh of the crash, the part of me that stays constant even as the rest of my life grows, merges into a new road, withers, or results in new relatives. It is because I watch myself live my life --that I am going through the motions of living my life -- that I dissolve into this amorphousness.

I awaken early from a slumber so slowly that as my dreams fade out and the filtered sunrise in my new apartment fades in I spend ten minutes deciding whether to wake up or sleep au reste. After a while I notice a churning desire to pee so I do get up, pee, and then amble into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. It's been a couple of days since I've thought of anything at all. Finishing my coffee I place my cup in the sink and step back into the bedroom for my smooth yoga. Up dog, down dog, seated stretching, then laying on my back and grabbing one leg and pulling it to the side, then the other leg to the other side. Finally I lay flat on my back with my arms at my side, eyes closed, attentive to my breathing, the oblique rays playing across the side of my legs and torso. The outside city carries on with its morning treadmill of readying for another day of work or housecleaning or going to school; I think back to a couple of months ago when I was in-between jobs with nothing to do, my resources and searching expended, the couple of people that I still loved already adjusted to my quietness, and then I return back to the inner womb of my own soul, dematerializing from the present world completely.

While discovering a city I notice the tiers of what women build with their love; it has both more and less to do with the bigger shape of the cloud. Sometimes they stretch the nebulosity out like feathered ribbons, sometimes they knot it up into tall cumulus, and sometimes they soften it down into a pea-soup fog. I am no longer resistant -- I no longer fly hastily into the blue yonder -- instead I lurk within the moisture molecules and allow myself to be one with the flux, to yield to the quiet perturbations and currents and whirlpools. I am less inclined to huff and blow -- instead I allow the fog to slush my vision and settle into a meandering review of the rays that filter and diffract and reveal the thickness in their absorbance.

It's not my trajectory, the music in my head, the reflected patterns from the furniture, the fabrics, nor the architecture; this brain encased in my skull passes all thoughts like a flow of neutrinos not reacting with anything at all... an atom of transit within the movement that would happen with or without me, where everything can be suspended, literally and by commitment, so that my silent screams through the muffling fog are just inhalations of haze. I am warm and detached from my body while an unseen force pulls my eyes, ears, and thoughts gradually through increasing pockets of density and then sudden clarity again, then back into more soft invisible detachment. Rather than by my direction, I begin to define myself by my molecular dissipation.

I sit in the unheated plaza watching the passersby: people with their daily schedules, people on a break from work, people who are just hanging out or reading or listening to music or talking with their friends; because it is cold my brain slows to the miniscule and now I am looking at their shoes or the oddness of the variety of colors or the patterns of light and darkness in the interference between a fence and the air and the things passing behind it, and then my brain slows further until it freezes itself. Thought no longer happens; the combination of visual and auditory passes by as my self becomes the third observer to my brain and my body.