Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Disconsolate Chimaera

The handlebars on my bicycle came loose again. Politely -- they just shifted a bit, giving me plenty of warning. But by the time I got to Tosi's, though, they were moving pretty freely. It's interesting to ride without putting any weight on the handlebars -- the brakes and gearshift are on the bars, so I have to squeeze and turn them, while keeping the vector sum of all the force I apply to the bars at zero. It's entertaining, though it would be more entertaining if I didn't know that an abrupt emergency would certainly make me lose control of the bike. It's fine to ride no-hands; we did it all the time as kids. But dodging, swerving, evading...? No. I think I should take it into the shop and have them bolt the bars (and the seat) where I want them. I know where that is, now. They don't need to be adjustable any more.

I love this bicycle: it's the tangible sign of my freedom. My equivalent of the midlife-crisis crimson sports car.

Yesterday was the one of the first real resurrections of discontent. It should have been the perfect day: a practice session with Lana, trying to incorporate the rudiments of shiatsu and tui na, and then a lovely massage from Tele. But Lana talked the whole time I was working on her, friendly conversation; I wondered toward the end if I were really still working on her, or if it was just a pretense to open up the space for talking. And Tele seemed faintly uncomfortable, and ready to be gone at the end. I was left feeling a little mournful. Though I would have said, a year ago, that this was all I wanted in the world -- this kind of touch, this intimacy, this trust.

They're too young to be entirely easy friends: there's always a problem of translation. The world you inhabit at thirty is different from the world you inhabit at fifty. And coming of age in the nineties left different marks from the marks left by coming of age in the seventies. Vocabularies shift subtly. The dominant preoccupations, with which or against which we framed our identities, were different.

But that's just "the presenting problem," as I believe psychologists call it. The pretext for dissatisfaction. The real problem is that achieving this -- getting what is, supposedly, all I want -- didn't change anything drastically. I still ache, I still want. There's still an empty space that won't be filled. I'm old enough not to have expected that it would be -- consciously -- but unconsciously I did, and I found myself vaguely resentful and petulant. Spiritual longings are not to be satisfied by the pleasures of the world; not even by the pleasures of touch and friendship. But it's so easy to let myself be washed into the current of believing they will be. It runs strong. Lots of people want me to believe it, desperately, because it will help them believe in its possibility too.

Never enough. "Nothing touches the tired spot," as Lincoln said. It's palpable to me sometimes, the desire that you have for me to have achieved a life in which the world makes me content. In which the tired spot is rubbed away by magically good massage. And I know that from time to time I have pandered to that desire, teased it up, suggested or implied that it was so, could be so, was about to be so. I me me mine --

The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimaera.

No comments: