Chapter 51. The ManMed Marathon Begins.

Chapter 51.

The Manful Marathon Begins.

The manful meditation marathon began promptly at 9 am the next morning following a ‘power’ breakfast of steel-cut oatmeal topped with blueberries and a double espresso. I was primed to start the process. Training time was over.  This was going to be the big time manmed session to remember.  The launch of the next phase of my life and a celebration of the end of this one.

I was psyched.  Totally.

The days that followed were a blur of thoughts and visions.  Some days I sat for over 4 hours straight, breaking for lunch and then back onto the purple cushun’ for the afternoon.  Other times I passed out cold during a deep meditation, waking up to find big foot white dog sleeping contentedly along side of me.  One afternoon I just got bored and quit when my ass got too sore. By the time Monday evening rolled around, the floor of the mancave was littered with coffee cups, clif bar wrappers and dirty plates that I hadn’t bothered to remove.  I could see the remnants of huevos rancheros and chicken pesto paninis when I finally cleaned up and looked back on the longest sequence of meditation exercises that I had, and likely would, ever engage in.

I had resolved to begin this mental workout Thursday morning with an easy exercise. A warm up for the head to help me stretch the mind.  I didn’t want to analyze my life in too much detail, at least not yet. I wanted to celebrate it instead. But even though my goal was to lighten up you can’t always control what comes into the meditation process.  I had to reject the first subjects that came forward that day out of hand as too complicated and exhausting.  They included such easy happy thoughts about death, anger, violence and failure.  Now any one of those topics would have kept me busy through the weekend, set a difficult tone and exhausted me before I could finish what I had set out to accomplish.   These final meditations had to be fun.  The serious stuff could wait until the end.

As I took control and began to relax I saw what looked like white clouds floating in the inner distance.  They were beautiful ivory snowy peaks soft inviting and warm.  Warm?  Just where was this going?  I looked harder within and realized that they weren’t clouds, not at all. They were giant puffs of shaving cream.  Yes, my first meditation of the day took me inside of a wholly unremarkable yet core man moment where we find in comfort of a really good shave.  What a simple elemental pleasure.  Started with a thick coating of warm lather that I massaged into my face slowly and carefully until an even layer was done.  Saw the even slow strokes of a new razor, moving up and down my cheeks, my chin and then my neck but never across. Splashed hot water across my face and then felt the comforting steaming moisture of a steaming towel that opens the pores.  Ran my hands over the so smooth finish, no nicks or cuts here.  Enjoyed the brace of a biting citrusy after-shave.  Visualized the happy reception I would get from she who hates anything resembling a beard on my face.  Oh, what pleasure there is in woman’s hand as she slowly runs it over your cleanly shaven face looking you right in the eyes! Then I repeated the exercise again.  It was the male equivalent of a warm cookie or a roaring fire, a moment of total comfort and I stayed there in bliss until I was ready to move one.

The following moments surprised me with their radical  shift of direction.  They were primal but I did not resist.  I moved directly into a meditation that focused upon building a fire in the outdoors, a sense that lies deep in the recess of our male sub-being.  I am in a forest.  I see a large pile of wood.  It’s a drizzling very cold day but with a lot of faith, newspaper and kindling we are able to start it together.  I watch the fire as it begins to climb gradually catching hold against the odds.

There is a large fire pit, 10 of us are warming ourselves by the fire at it catches, avoiding the smoke that seems to follow us around the circle.  We talk for hours huddling to stay warm.  About what, I can’t say.  Who was there?  I don’t know them. Strangers brought together on a cold rainy day by the warmth of a fire.  I can’t make out their faces or remember what we said.  At a point the words become a hum that grows progressively louder as the meditation finishes.  We are chanting together under the trees, the rain does not matter.  We are swaying with the rhythm of the branches, we float in the fog like holy men.  The drone goes on and on and on until it slowly gently fades.

This is an easy place to break and I do for a quick lunch of leftover steak over arugula salad.  I am completely relaxed. I linger over each bite and chew carefully, something I never ever do.

After lunch I continue with a meditation on the garden where I stay for a long while and finish the first day.  The garden creates a set of meditations which bring me infinite pleasure.  I start with mowing the lawn. Now I don’t have a lawn anymore but I used to.  I hated it.  To my mind, the lawn is the garden equivalent of a dysfunctional high maintenance relationship.  The only thing I did like about my old lawn was mowing it and that is a pleasure that I won’t forget and focus on. I watch the circling push of the blades cutting across the grass, feel the worn grip of the handles and the resistance it creates as it pushes back against my hands.  Most of all I revel in the smell afterwards, the fresh cut grass smells like nothing else on earth.  In my meditation the lawn is green lush and full.  It’s never brown or full of pesticides. It doesn’t drink water insatiably.

Then without warning the meditation morphs into a moment years and years ago when the kidults were little.  I have gathered the fall leaves from our sycamore. They are brown now with a cedar like smell and crunching underfoot.  I see them both clearly, so small, so happy running up to the pile, launching themselves in and doing it again and again and again.  The meditation ends as they throw leaves at each other until they fall down laughing exhausted.  I watch.  It is as if they are hear with me in the room.

My journey shifts again and I am now cleaning the dog shit in the back yard.  Sure, I don’t want to focus on it too long, but getting rid of the crap feels so good and not having to smell it anymore is its own reward.   It is part of the cycle.  I honor it.

The garden afternoon climaxes in an explosion of plants, vegetables and flowers.  They come in no particular order.  There are the creamy white tulips waving in the first spring breeze, then the deep purple of an iris contrasted by it’s yellow center, now the smell of new blossoms on our Meyer lemon tree the taste of a parsley sprout as I nibble on it.  Explosions of cherry tomatoes bursting with natural sweetness in the height of what little summer we get, the feeling of warm wet compost between my fingers just watching the earthworms undulate.  The rich green color of mache lettuce, the taste of a just picked nectarine, the never ending march of the parsley plants intent on conquering all.

But no release is complete without the subtle sense of loss that follows and that is just what happens to this vision.  The garden starts to change, bright colors becoming grey, full stalks collapsing, green shoots turning brown in my own time lapse vision.  I see countless rows of dead hollow dark brown tomato plants bearing a solitary green fruit shivering in a winter breeze.  I examine the threadlike fingers of the fungus that lives beneath the soil, tear apart the overwhelming root systems that choke off growth everywhere, only to find more and more.  I smell the deep must of decay. Now there are armies of aphids sucking the life out of my onions, leeks and chives and snails eating leaf after leaf after leaf leaving only the naked stems behind.

Then I think hey, maybe it is time to stop for the day.  As I do I am left with one thought, why does a garden fail?  And then I wonder, how do you define failure in a garden.  There is no answer.

Dinner that night is simple, a large green salad with tuna, black beans jack cheese and a lime cilantro dressing.  I don’t have much to say and I am asleep by 8:30, passed out and content.  I sleep soundly barely saying good night to she who is almost always asleep before I am home late from a board meeting.

Friday starts on time and further on point.  I begin with a meditation on another core value of mandom.  Our desire to fix things. Our compelling need to make them tick.  An unrelenting passion to make things work right.  I visualize a bicycle tire that is full and balanced, a door that swings open and true and drawer that opens and closes flush. I follow with a meditation on my favorite tools commencing with a screwdriver that I found in my father’s garage while cleaning it out after he passed so so long ago.  He modified his 8-inch long screwdriver by notching the end so it would work with either regular or Phillips screws.  It is a symbol of his mechanical prowess, something I never understood when I was young.  A parade of tools follows, tiny Phillips screwdrivers for tight places, a perfectly balanced hammer, sharp saws, rubber mallets, awls, wire cutters, socket wrenches and that wonder of wonders, the crescent wrench.

As the garage fades I come to the living room and the fixing continues.  I am now working three different remote controls, trying to find the right buttons and to get the DVD to run. I switch a remote to the HDMI 2 input and finally there is the picture. And I wonder, why do we need so many inputs? I see them now, components, video, audio, optical, left right, empty receptacles waiting only to be plugged in.  They taunt me in their silent confusion.

Feeling strong, I am ready to tackle a real challenge, one that has slain the confidence of many a greater soul than mine:  Building an IKEA dresser.  Anyone who has ever started at the climb up this mountain knows what I am talking about.  You unload the box and here they are, the bizarre tools of this strange craft, wooden pegs, oddly shaped mutations of screwdrivers and allen wrenches, similar but subtly different sets of bolts and screws designed to confuse the unfortunate and uninitiated.  You sort them you pile them and then, feeling strong now, you confront the gate-keeper of this dark world, the building instructions.  Wordless pictorials to guide you through a Tolkein like trek led by mute ghostlike cartoon figures with no faces.  What appear to be simple drawings that turn out more complex than the old testament.

The battles that follow are epic, the pieces you try to fit with the knowledge that they are wrong and will have to be rebuilt, the fear as a key wooden component begins to shatter.  Yet you push on until it is done, hands bleeding fingers bruised hoping against hope that when you finish everything fits.  I emerge from this meditation chaste, clean, pure.

I am totally into this now, the cushun has become part of me, the mediations flow one to the other.  I have to say I have no idea how I get to the next bus stop on this ride but there I am. I find myself thinking about bodily functions.  They create a set of meditations unrivaled in their smell, touch and effect.

I start by imaging the wondrous pleasure of scratching my balls.  A sensation so satisfying as an imaginary itch disappears.  The subtle adjustments afterwards, a sense of newly found space and balance that follows.  Then my thoughts move into a visit to the throne, yes, putting on the crown and taking a major dump.  There is a good magazine article to enjoy along with it and I sit.  It is so satisfying to feel my system in such harmony and wonderfully empty afterwards.

Things start to move quickly now.  I feel the divine ecstasy of a good belch after a really good meal.  Deep, primal, liberating and sometimes painfully dangerous after spicy food. I find the release of blowing your nose when badly congested.  Not a little effort either, a powerful blow where you put your soul into it and feel the pressure change inside of your ears. Now I breathe deeply without restriction filling my lungs and releasing and filling them again.  My breaths are deep.  Full.  Alive. I have cleared the  clotting phlegm from my chest and I am free.

Then there is a successful flossing followed with a good bracing, minty and not to sweet mouthwash.  I run my tongue around newly clean smooth teeth.  And again.  And again.  It’s ecstasy.

I come out of the journey and open my eyes.  I look at the clock and am amazed, it is 4 in the afternoon.  Strange. I have been meditating all day yet I am not hungry.  There is time for a quick walk then a simple meal, a vegetable stir fry over brown rice.  I settle into the couch. There is a ball game.  The Giants look like shit, Zito gets blasted by the Dodgers cadre of young hitters, another long miserable season looms of watching Manny pound our pitching staff.  I barely notice that she comes home late from Yoga and she doesn’t seem to mind asking only if there is something to eat.

It’s fine.  I’m in no mood to talk.  The dog is snoring but I don’t notice it.  I’m asleep by 9.

Chicken Panini Sandwiches.

1 baguette

Left over chicken.  If none, deli slices will do.

2 slices provolone.

5 Sun dried tomatoes.

Pesto

Mustard.

Warm your panini machine or heat a pan. If using a pan add a little oil.

Cut a piece of the baguette that reflects how hungry you are.  Then cut it in half.  Layer the chicken, provolone, sun dried tomatoes and pesto.

Press and grill or if in the pan, heat over medium heat until brown using a heavy object to push the panini down.

I wanted to list a bunch of great sports songs, but alas, there are none that come to mind after We Will Rock You by Queen and the theme from Rocky.  By the time that Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Hey Hey Goodbye comes in, I am done.

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