today i woke up, only fifteen minutes after my alarm went off, and managed to do a few minutes of seated meditation. i drank some coffee and read some wicked, and then i found myself dragging. i don’t want to go outside, my inner baby whined. i want to stay in and rent some videos. come on, i’m sad. indulge me. usha won’t really mind if i cancel the appointment to look at the camera again – and then i can just cocoon. it was a wetly-snowed morning, and i let myself dawdle – dressing slowly, washing my face and massaging in moisturizer – and then i heard this voice saying, um? hi? this is just my depression talking. FIGHT IT. GET OUTSIDE NOW, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. so i called a cab – perhaps unnecessarily, but i REALLY did not want to go and so i thought i’d flow with my heels-digging, rather than against.

i got to usha’s apartment right on time (also another unheard-of, when i’m feeling down) and she let me in to an apartment that was dazzlingly clean, and dazzlingly spartan. the hardwood floor gleamed. the patchwork-quilted bed was made with hospital corners. she had written up inspirational quotes on pieces of printer paper and taped them to the walls. she led me to her kitchen and asked me if i would like some chai. i said yes, and she continued to grate fresh ginger into a steaming bowl. the smell of nag champa wafted through the apartment. we talked – about food, for starters, and the dangers of monoculture, and then india, and i soaked up stories since i’m dying to go there. and she showed me the camera, which is in perfect, meticulously-kept condition. it is a pentax asahi k1000 (i don’t know if that is helpful, or if i even quoted the right thing, as i have always WANTED to get serious about photography but know NOTHING – it is exhilarating to admit that!)
see, this camera presents challenges for me, because of my ‘lucky hand’. people always told me i couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to work a manual camera because it took two hands – to hold the camera steadily, to adjust the zoom lens, to fiddle with the light metre. and it is hard – when she got me to try it out, my hand shook with the new weight and position – but i am confident that i can learn.
we drank fresh chai in her dimly-lit kitchen – chai sweetened with her freshly-made soy milk and rich honey, and talk flowed freely between us. a lot of it was about non-attachment; she has split her time fairly evenly between india and canada since moving here in 1998, and has made it a mandate to get rid of everything she owns every move – so that all of her ‘permanent possessions’ fit into two suitcases.

before i left, she gave me a few books – some essays by noam chomsky, a book on the political history of india, and a book of short stories by bengali women called “of women, outcastes, peasants, and rebels”.

after the conversation that field and i had last night (which was nothing but loving) i felt like just being invisible for a day, making as little commotion in the cosmos as possible. as i mentioned, he had noticed me being a bit extra sensitive lately (i’m always slow on figuring out my emotional temperature – like a bull, i tend to keep pushing at something without raising my head long enough to figure out that i’m just digging a trench in the ground for my efforts…) and one of the big epiphanies i had is that i’ve just been shades of down in the last few years. well, actually, i’ve had this particular epiphany before, i just have had no idea what to do with it.

today the answer was pretty clear – i still had a few hours before class, but i knew that going back home would spell death for the rest of the day, so i decided to go to my safe place. currently (although the left-winger in me is cringing that it’s a chainstore, but what can you do (but live in a shoe)?) my safe place is the chapters and starbucks on peel street. book stores, for a bookworm, are opiating. my heart rate drops, i feel among kindred spirits – and in lots of ways, each spine is a friend from my childhood.
(in lots of ways the way i felt today reminds me of the way i used to feel when i was 8, 9, 10.)

i bought books. i found a copy of the giving tree, finally, and this nuts book called “living your yoga” that is quite literally knocking my socks off. well, not literally, but the reference is clear….right?
i picked up a copy of the tao te ching that was in the bargain bin and it felt like a scab had just been picked off my heart chakra. seriously. i have never had an instinctive reaction like that to a book before, especially before reading it.

once i was done being a book glutton i went to the starbucks and bought myself a coffee and a muffin and just sat, and felt myself being broken open by the words i was absorbing….

i know that there are lots of people who aren’t readers, but i hope that everyone has that sense, sometimes, of coming home to a well-loved hobby. one that envelops and strokes your heart like reading does mine. that waters it and keeps it safe.
i don’t feel this way constantly about reading – there have been books that i have wasted time getting through, and books that i knew were like candy cotton floss to my soul – not satisfying, too airy and sweet – but still, when it works, there is nothing like the feeling of a good book to me.

then – class. more coffee. and then to the gym, to sweat, and have a sauna (which is essential to the aboriginal spirit of me, the ‘sweat lodge’ aspect of it, no matter that it’s in a ymca) and then home, drinking water and reading my books and feeling like i’d done a day of soul-renewal, that was just for me….