In Narcissus Leaves the Pool: Familiar Essays, Joseph Epstein discusses athletic coordination. In the title essay, he writes ‘. . . I saw a famous professor from the university where I teach carrying hand weights as he walked home. He was doing it in such a herky-jerky fashion that I could read in every step a boy who had never known physical grace.’ I have known physical grace. I have known deep bodily reactivity and the joy of moving. I had no such joyful reactivity of emotions. Those came in a thick volcanic flow of copious, twitching eruptions. I poured myself out to manage this flood. I call it an unholy compensation for unspeakable emptiness -- a self-wounding to feel something other than nothingness – and I call it the best I could do. Not grounded in reality, I was buried in reality’s former presentation. In my deepest self I have flailed no matter how well my body moved.
I had a nightmare about working at a new job. There was too much – too much work and herky-jerky change. I could not manage. I flailed in body and time. There was no physical grace or grace of mind. I once dreamed that I could fly seated on disk, dressed in a slick hooded body suit, with fingers tightly gripping the wafer under me. Without fear and with perfectly abandoned elegance, I flew over and under the telephone wires with flying neighbors and our houses, trees and parked cars flashing below. I swooped in blissful response and exquisite control. All was physical grace and grace of deep psychic peace and harmony.
The sentences resist me like a ball of stiff, dry dough. This new writing is not planning how to live, it is living. It is awkward and stiff, this writing that is not living on paper. Instead of unpredictable heaving up, I write with a new mastery of mind and page that flows like breezes and wind -- an uneven but steady process. I stab the dough with a new intention. It rises, warmed with my intrinsic worth. Resistance bends into a grace of character with an integrity all its own.