This month's "The Mirror" column was written by Linda Eskin © 2016, all rights reserved.
Charlie and Morris greet me at the door, stretching and blinking, meowing for attention. I've just come in after dropping off a dojo mate. We agreed to skip the Saturday night seminar gathering at the brewery. Too exhausted to bother.
All these old friends (and some new ones) to hang out with! Alas. After 4 hours' sleep last night I wouldn't have fully appreciated their delightful company and engrossing tales anyway. I'll see them again tomorrow on the mat.
Two mutually exclusive thoughts chase each other in circles around in my brain: "I'm too tired to eat." "I'm soooo hungry!" In spite of an angry knee so painful it's making me queasy, the latter wins out. I want food!
I passed up my favorite taco shop on the way home in favor of the idea of salmon (a double serving) and salad (a big one) at home. I put the salmon on to cook, and toss my only decent gi into the washer.
Oh! I remember that I have chocolate milk. I laid in a supply just for this reason - seminar rations.
You ever reach for another sip of that drink you just poured, and find that the glass is empty? Yeah, that. Gone.
Food! Food and a hot bath. Food and a hot bath and sleep!
The clock says 8:47. It feels like 2 a.m.
I'm not a bath person. I don't like baths. But my knee needs a long, hot soak, and some intensive stretching and massage. It hurts. It aches and stings and pinches and throbs.
But I think my knee is OK. No, really. [She said, limping and grimacing.] It mostly hurts when I sit still. It feels like tight muscles are pulling the joint out of alignment. When I can get the muscles to relax, it doesn't hurt.
At the lunch break today I rolled around on a hard medicine ball, releasing trigger points on the side of my hip. Saw stars and tweety birds for my trouble. And blackness and despair.
There's something about leg cramps that equates to sadness in me. Maybe someday I'll remember what that's about. Practiced burst breathing -- fff, fff, fff, fff, fff -- a Systema thing I learned to do in a seminar at this same dojo, years ago. Relaxed into the pain and let the muscles soften around the hard ball.
A few minutes of focused work and my knee was fine. I trained for over two hours in the afternoon. Had a great time exploring blends, leading, and spirals, practicing martial awareness and softness.
What marvelous people these are to train with! A big mat packed with happy participants and great teachers. So much kindness and generosity in one place! I've made so many friends here over the years. This is the 10th anniversary of the Bridge Seminar, and my 7th year attending. It's like a huge family reunion.
Midway through the third hour of the afternoon my knee made an announcement: "You are done for the day. Get off the mat." Some things you have to respect. Owww... It's doing better now that I'm sitting in front of the heater under my desk.
The salmon is ready.
First I need to feed the animals and put my gi in the dryer. Then I had better eat before I'm too sleepy to care. Salad? Bleh ... That sounds like too much trouble.
My eyes are slamming shut. The bath is out, too. I'd just fall asleep in the tub.
Salmon, and sleep.
I'll be up again before dawn, reheating today's cold coffee, and picking up my friend on the way to the dojo. Back on the mat tomorrow morning, bright and early. Well, early, at least.
"The Mirror" is written by a roster of women who describe themselves as a disparate bunch of scientists, healers, artists, teachers, and, yes, writers. Over ten years into this collaboration we find we are a bunch of middle-aged yudansha from various parts of the world and styles of aikido. What we share is a lively curiosity about and love for both life and budo, and an inveterate tendency to write about our explorations.