Cartesian? Moi?

Well, it’s quite some time since I wrote anything much, and there are a bundle of reasons for this, some of which may or may not become apparent over the next whatever. Suffice to say it’s been an odd and frustrating summer.

It is strange just how much is in one’s head, when it comes to doing stuff, and also it is particularly, well, fucking annoying, actually, just how difficult it is to follow one’s own prescriptions. In the old days, when I taught guitar to people, some of whom are now proper good (and a few of whom are proper, proper good – I had little to do with these ones, I suspect, but hey …) I used to explain to them that during the time in which I was breaking down their old technique and replacing it with a shiny new one, they’d suck for a while, get really frustrated, and wish they’d never bothered. Persevere, I said (quite forcefully, as I’m sure some of them will happily agree). And well whadda-you know, I was absolutely right.

So after an off-season spent rebuilding my batting technique, I start to net really well, and enter the season expectant of runs in buckets. Naturally, the cricket gods were watching, and had obviously been to some of my classes back in the day. Why so? Because for the first ten matches or so, if I there was a 1 in 20 chance of getting out, I would. That’s what happens when you’re out of form. The edge carries, the run-out chance is a direct hit, the overbalancing leads to the ball hitting your big toe and cannoning onto the stumps, the third slip takes an astonishing catch, only to drop a dolly off his own bowling three overs later.

When things aren’t going your way, that’s the way it stays. And boy, did it stay. I had a short run mid-season, but that was it. My cause wasn’t helped by the fact that on taking up a rather more vigorous martial art, I dislocate my shoulder and, well, let’s just say things changed.

You see, what I used to tell my students is to relax, let it flow, just let it be. And I used to cheat to make it happen. I’d make them do something so daftly stupidly difficult for them, but really make them try, expecting them to succeed but knowing they’d fail … and when they went back to the original thing, they’d be so disgusted with themselves, or maybe angry, or maybe broken, that … well, it would flow. And once they’d heard it, felt it, caressed it the way it ought to be, that would be it. Barrier broken. Job done. Thank you and goodnight.

But no fucker does this for me, and try as I might, I couldn’t make it happen for myself. I once (sorry, Mayfield) got so annoyed after batting myself into the dodgy bowlers only to twat the ball straight up in the air that I put my fist through the pavilion wall. As the opposition captain observed … if only I batted like I punched …

The next, and final game everything changed. Why? Well, because of the parkinson’s (oh, and after two years … count ’em, two … I finally got the genetic results … more on that later) I simply can’t jab with my left hand, so when I spar there’s an awful lot of dancing about to be done … as I wait until I can actually do something. My defence is vulnerable, so I have had to adapt it. And finally I just relaxed and thought ‘fuck it, who cares’, and decided I was just not going to get hit. So to speak.

And lo and behold, before I know it, two has turned into ten ten into twenty … and then I’m being applauded. The opposition keeper has to point out it’s because I’ve just reached my fifty.

Now, this is all well and good, but your point, sir? Hmm … I’m sure I had one … oh yes. Tonight I’m rolling (that is, doing groundwork, wrestling … you know the sort of thing) when my opponent tries something, I try to prevent it, and ker-runch goes my other bloody shoulder.

You see, what I lost during the cricket season, and what I tried so hard to instil in my students, was that flexibility of though which allows you to take what the world gives you and simply absorb it. Roll with it, so to speak. That’s a lesson I finally remembered on that final sunday of the season. Sadly, my tendons and ligaments aren’t following suit. One of the effects of this delightful condition is a loss of the elasticity in said tendons and ligaments … an increased stiffness in the muscles … and when you’re working with a partner, and they say ‘loosen up’, you can only say ‘ain’t gonna happen’ so many times. ‘We’ll get it’, they say. ‘Er, no we won’t but don’t sweat it’, I reply. Eventually, I simply tell them.

The point, the point. Well, with parky’s (and no, I have neither the Parkin gene – so odd to have a gene for a kind of ginger bread thing – nor Lark 2) there are the obvious symptoms – the tremor and the parkinson’s shuffle. Sounds like a dance. And it is, because what’s beneath the surface is worse – joints seizing up, loss of fine motor control (hey, look, I have trouble wielding a fork, of course I’m not going to be playing the fucking guitar again), trouble swallowing … er, other stuff I have to look forward to.

Look to what’s underneath. Because that’s what make what you can see happen. So much of this life is in the head, and sometimes, a part of it fucks up, and that, too, affects the outside. My basal ganglia are giving up the ghost. The result is I fall, I get injured, I take longer to heal. My brain is mostly on the money, and then some. But it is communicating less and less well with my body. I am becoming Cartesian. Bugger.

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