Time to Breathe (Thought Out in my Head While Taking a Bath)

Suddenly, I cannot make all of the choices I once had the liberty to make. My body is telling me to slow down. And the writing desk bares its teeth. Glenn Gould is my only comfort of late. Though, it’s a song without a song. It’s a movement without the dance. I listen to him play, my mind spins, but I cannot write.

I should learn something through sickness.

I have never actually listened to Glenn Gould play before, only listened to how the notes move me, move in and out of my cochlea and hit strides upon my wired mind. But am I listening to the notes? Or simply waiting for them to lean against me? Please, against me, lean your visions.

No, not listening.

And I do not wish to wait. Do not wish to sit and feel my days pass by without accomplishment. The writing desk is baring its teeth. And I feel like crying. I feel like my only line to a landscape is gone. My body takes control and I do nothing but fight. But stand in the doorway, one foot in, the other impatiently out, waiting for the ringing bell, the gates to open.

Am I listening to ballads or forming them in my mouth? Are the notes independent of my ego?

How this moves me, when I listen. If I really listen, his notes take me to the widest forest, or under your ear lobe.

But I do not want this long language, the many minerals here under me. How can I make my words as minerals? As an array of sheets in the earth, cool, light, or heated and porous. Why make them anything than what they are?

Against the backdrop of these ballades, your hand.

Does something really need to be produced by me today? The calm will still be there, if I’d listen.

I took three baths today. One to fill the room with steam. And though my glasses fogged and the pages curled between my fingers, I was able to read about the anatomy of thought.

Then I read the letters of C. S. Lewis. “All the things you like to dwell upon are outsides. A planet like our own…Or a beautiful human body. All the colors and pleasant shapes are merely where it ends, where it ceases to be inside. Inside, what do you get? Darkness, worms, heat, pressure, salt.”

Yes, yes. Like the caves my sister mentioned at dinner. Not caves, caverns. And out near them, the salt flats. And the time I rode in the car, listening to my mother gesture one way or the other, writing in a notebook, seeming sad for no reason, watching the salt flats sprinkle ghosts at me. What’s that? I asked. Salt.

The days or moments remembered. Where in the anatomy of thought do they reside. And why do I need to write to prove this? That one moment I was 14, driving to Carlsbad and the next my future self sits listening to Glenn Gould—moments will rise up and fall away, no matter the writing.

And so I am back in steam, glasses fogged, reading. Thinking, somewhere, there’s a day I have yet to live. With you. You who do not know the anatomy of my thoughts.

I read this tonight, between coughing and wanting to reach for the pen. Between meditation and stirring up my insides.

I read, from Etty Hillesum’s diary:

“The will flows smoothly into the deed, the barriers I couldn’t cross before have at last broken down. And I no longer say, ‘Yes, but I have not yet found my “territory”.’ I no longer suffer because I have not yet discovered the right ‘instrument,’ the right ‘object.’ All that matters now is the ‘deep inner serenity for the sake of creation.’ Though whether I shall ever ‘create’ is something I can’t really tell. But I do believe that it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word, by simply molding one’s inner life. That too is a deed.”

That too is a deed.

And I took another sip of water. I took time to breathe. Caught in between the ballads and the desire to write.

Between this one long breath and the next, is a pause. And You settle things, or throw them about. A mess or a calm.

The days or moments remembered. The anatomy of another’s thoughts against mine. And thinking of yours, and C. S. Lewis, Glenn Gould, and the stranger on the side of the highway, passing the salt flats so many years ago…

between each one lives numerous other lives. Could this all be our words, then, together? And if I am silent, is it so I can hear You speak?

I was thinking about myself, about writing, about leaning one ballad against the next. I was refusing to listen.

And I took another sip of water. I took time to breathe.

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