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On Cleanliness


A special song comes on the radio. One that interacts with the inside of her.

She remembers leaning back in a comfortable office chair with castors.

Without thought she steps down from the stool, avoids disturbing the dozing dog, and gets herself into position.

Her triceps contracts. Her abdomen contracts. Her thighs contract.

Her neck curls up so that her symmetrical chin gazes ahead.

To the beat she dips down and pops up, dips down and pops up, dips down and pops up.

She remembers yoga with Adi Amar, when the yoga guru goes into a handstand and swings her legs around and supports them on her right triceps and she says, “And for the advanced, if you want to go deeper into this pose, smile.”

This advice, to smile when under great distress, is the best advice she has ever gotten.

And it’s also the most difficult to execute to perfection.

There are situations that are impossible to smile in, no matter how deep you are in them, or how advanced you are.

She doesn’t know if this is entirely true.

Can you conceive of a scenario in which the Dalai Lama wouldn’t be able to smile? An instant in the continuum of time in which, try as he might, exert every molecule of willpower he has, and the line of his lips simply can’t go concave?

Her dozing dog barely watches her dipping down and popping up, dipping down and popping up.

She tucks her chin in and looks down her shirt. She also sees the carpet caked in a thin layer of her dog’s hair.

Dog hair everywhere. Not a single square centimeter free of the follicle ejections.

In the face of this haystack of allergens, living in this den of relative filth, she smiles and dips down and pops up, smiles and dips down and pops up.

She smiles because she also sees her dead skin cells sloughing off. Every square centimeter of carpet snowed over with hair and cells.

In this way, she understands something greater than herself: some things are too small to see, and other things are too large, but if you were suddenly able to see everything at once, all the small things and large things and all the things in between, at once, there would be no such thing as cleanliness.

Cleanliness is imaginary.

July 10, 2012 11:13 am

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