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  • Erin Clark

Ageing





I am aging. I see it mainly in my skin which is creasing and getting lose and changing tones. But I also feel it. Not physically, the creak you hear is my wheelchair, not me. What I mean is, my feelings are aging, too.


I used to be cold. Not evil, like an ice queen but crystalline, nonetheless. I did not want to be. I was like a skating rink, water poured over the ground in freezing temperatures until it hardens. The molecules slowed down from lack of energy so much that they become solid, and thus I was trapped while people skated across me. I was desperate to be melted.

When I was part of a meditation community, they referred to people like me as having the gift of a brilliant mind. It was meant as a kind irony. There was nothing beneficial to brilliance — diamond edged intellect — when what you were cultivating was calm. My mind is quick, it must be ten steps ahead on seventeen possible outcomes. That is how adaptability occurs, especially in the adventurous circumstances I insist on being in. The faster I can do this, the more instinctive my ideas feel, like gliding across a frozen surface, an intoxicating approximation of ease. And then there is the trouble that I am trapped, not simply *in* ice, but in the tension between *being* the ice that is also the surface across which I skate. If I melt, I also drown. You know what thaws you? Feelings. Feelings which are not meant to be optimized or anticipated. I would search for my feelings, but my mind would run so quick and use such force, for that and for other reasons, my feelings scampered underground to live in a cozy burrow where they were impervious to the harsh judgements of my unrelenting analysis. And that left me cold. So, I sought other heat sources.


First, religion. Fervor and faith and that goose-pimpled yearning for spirit. It taught me an inner discipline and the importance of an ineffable spiritual quality to my experiences, but it didn’t give me my feelings back. There was too much of another kind of judgement. So, I learned to meditate. Zen is not known for it’s warmth, detachment is not known for it’s comfort or satisfaction. But, It taught me clarity, how to stop admiring my mind and just watch it. And I did much therapies. Healing will heat you up. Which is how I learned that frozen wasn’t entirely involuntary. It didn’t happen to me. Emotional humidity made me crave sweater weather. I wanted to cover up. Of course! I *wanted* to go underground. Therapy taught me context and courage. I think that it was an alchemical process, more mystery than recipe, but the evolving and layering of meditating and therapy and mysticism worked. I learned how to stay still and feel, but not freeze or drown.


I had always known about poetry. How a poet can personify anything. And why not? Why just feel feelings when I could splash them on every surface, imbue objects and experiences with my essences and luxuriate in them? My feelings everywhere, everything alive. Alive with me. Throbbing and pulsing in every reflection. Joy, it turned out, was what I felt when I wasn’t afraid of… feeling. A feeling was just a sensation that registered in my body in a way that had meaning to me. Any meaning I chose. Or no meaning at all. Just the sensation.


I am aging. a new sensation. A calm warmth that I sometimes confuse with a lack of passion and eye suspiciously. But, it’s not a lack, it’s the sun through a scant cloud break after days of dullness that finds strength as it sets. I stretch out to reach it, and fold back in again.

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