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Ritual C — Week 4 — Move!

Ritual C – Week 4 – Move!

Steps for ritual:

1. Read a Rumi poem with Tessa in the morning.

2. Today, I am performing the ritual in our backyard, a clearing above the house.

3. Recited Roger Reeves’ “Trade beneath the aqueducts” from memory while walking through the wooded trails behind the house.

4. Recited Om Sahanauvavatu from the Taittiriya Upanishad, the verse that starts the section which is a dialogue between Rsih Bhrigu and his father. Bhrigu is said to be the paternal lineage from which I have descended.

a. The sloka, which I’ve known by heart since childhood, translates roughly to: May all be happy, may all be healthy, may all seek auspiciousness, may none suffer, Aum peace peace peace.

5. Dance to Eric Harland’s tracks “Turn Signal” and “Voyager” from the Voyager album. I found Eric Harland through Spotify at work in December 2012/January 2013. My partner of 5 ½ years had just moved out, and my mother was about to leave my father after 31 years of marriage and move in with me for a month. This was the beginning of the last 9 months of my father’s life. The opposite of a pregnancy. Later in 2013, while in New York visiting friends, I convinced them to buy tickets with me to see Eric Harland’s Voyager perform at the Jazz Standard. I bought tickets for two consecutive nights. The first night, when walking into the venue, Harland and his band were sitting at the bar. I approached, and naively asked him if he wrote the song “Turn Signal.” He graciously interacted and said, “Yeah.” “That track came to me at an important point in my life,” I said, “Thank you.” To which all the band members roared out, “Ohhh!!!” with smiles and drinks in the air. The next night, Harland played “Turn Signal” spotted me in the audience from behind the drumset, and we nodded to one another. I think it was the suggestiveness of the title, the syncopation of the beat 2/3 of the way through the song that moves the listener from a whirlwind to a new rhythm forward, that moved me so much. For a while, “Turn Signal” was my alarm clock in the morning.

6. Recite Om Sahanauvavatu again.

7. Bow. Full body namaskar on the ground.

Lab Notes/Freewrite:

Late afternoon, walked through the backyard speaker in hand, reciting “Trade Beneath the aqueducts” by memory. Sunny day with slight breeze. The trees nearing fuller green, the paths recently cleared by Tessa. Near the top of the hill along the winding path, you hit a turn, a switchback. And there, from two owners ago, stands a pair of black, laced working boots, empty, toes facing the thicket toward the harbor. Each time I see them, I freeze, terrified. All the stories of angry white people with shotguns in the woods and American countrysides come back to me from childhood. And though I’m 13,000 kms from the Ohio and Michigan woods and hunting grounds, the displaced fear registers for a flash in a slight interruption of my inhale, a micro-double-take that perhaps no outside observer, but the one I carry within myself, could notice, yet I feel that maybe the birds notice—the korimako eerily and suddenly quiet as I pass the spot—while I coach myself to smile, to befriend the ghosts that spook me, these boots a reminder that this land we rent is not mine, nor is it our ‘landlords’ nor the previous ‘owners’ who left these boots here to weather undisturbed for near a decade now. No, these boots are a reminder of all borrowed, including the body those boots once held, and the air I inhale from their insides, including, too, my own legs and body hurrying past, continuing up the hill until the post that marks land that neighbors I cannot see think they ‘own.’ And then I descend on this borrowed evening to the clearing my love made by raking leaves and twigs with the sides of her own boots, to dance flailing and by myself along to a song that found me in the most unsettled time of my still young (32) life, that began to teach me to make a home in this opacity of constant turns, make a fullness of it too. Unsettled as my legs that to this song move fast—my breath mingling with pollen to provoke my mild asthma, this shortness of breath, this wheeze while in motion, perpetual, for today my dance knew little of negative space, perhaps thinking itself to be glass, a window at night in which lights from inside the room and out on the street mingle, render themselves undifferentiable until one of the sources of light does cease, voyages into an absence where I know not if sound follows, the sloka of a saxophone or the rasp of a snare. My shoed feet slowed by the grass, labor toward speed in my spinning. I try to dance with the plants, sway like the eucalyptus shedding its bark. What to do in this world where one’s house is always built around, ontop of, in, or between another’s? What do I claim to possess that these movements release? Brethe in. Breathe out. Wheeze in. Wheeze out. When I touch the Earth with my splayed body and sweaty forehead, dirt, woodchips and dead leaves cling to me. And so I borrow them and they borrow me. So I wheeze and move as air and I borrow each other. And if all this borrowing is mutual, why not dissolve the debts and share? On the land in which I live, lives a pair of abandoned black boots, weathered, and home now, surely, to spiders or other creatures I do not take the time to see. These boots share the air as my falling flailing self shares your time.

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