Wednesday, February 2, 2005

Sweet, sweet air

I was really, really tense when I went spinning yesterday. It felt like I had become a steel feather, wound up to its full tension. I had to unwind. Literally.

This led me to give it all I had. I worked that bike as if my life depended on it. After putting the weight on it to its maximum, the machine actually started to groan. The steel and the iron pleaded for mercy, but I could not ease off. I pulled down on the handlebar to give me more leverage as I pushed the pedals harder, harder, harder. What really made me lose control was the music. It was just so right, at that moment, to hear hot, rowdy, greasy, sweaty heavy-metal rock'n'roll blaring from the speakers. And I don't mean the Metallica or AC/DC kind. I mean actual bell-bottomed, hairy-chested, cowbell'd old-fashion heavy metal.

And I just lost it.

For a whole hour, I became a physical slave to this primeval beat. When the endorphins kicked in, hard and sweet, I entered a state of elated bliss. That rapture which you can only get to by physically bringing your body to where it awards you with a dose of this closely guarded drug of its.

Which is how I rediscovered the sweetness of air.

After collapsing, exhausted and satisfied, onto the floor of the warm-up area of the gym, and finally catching my breath, I instinctly slipped into seiza sitting position and started breathing all the way into my tanden, as if my sensei had just said "Mokuso!"

I don't know how long I had been sitting there. My sense of time is lousy anyway, and it's been years since I have done this. I can't remember when I last entered a dojo. I don't even know where my gi is, although I still keep my belt handy.


I was well into 'realizing' my breath flowing up and over my head, engulfing my shoulders, falling down my sides, and out to the end of my limbs. I had even seen many of my thoughts quiet down, when, suddenly, it happened. I smelled the sweetness of the air. This is one of those things I had completely forgotten about. Like how cold water starts tasting sweet when you have been fasting for a while. And it felt magical. Sitting there on this mattress in the middle of a bustling gym, with my eyes closed and my hands resting on my thighs, smelling the sweetness of the air that I was breathing. It isn't that hard and flat sweet of sugar, or the heavy sweetness of syrup or honey. No, it is that fragile, barely noticeable sweet smell that you find in a summer breeze, woven in with its overwhelming, ripe pungence.

It is in a truly quiet moment, like this one was, that you realize how magical life is. How precious.

How sweet.