Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have a friend who had learning problems in high school. He couldn't get the hang of a subject, I think it was math. A doctor discovered that his brain was underdeveloped because he had not crawled as a child; he somehow went from flopping around on the floor to walking. The doctor prescribed crawling. After a couple months of exercises, he never again had similar frustrations with the school subject.

His experience made me wonder how often I approach problems with my mind that can only be solved with a seemingly unrelated mechanical movement of the body.

When restless, I'll watch a movie or read a book or write a journal entry or smoke a cigarette or have a drink or surf the net or do any of a number of other head exercises that doesn't ease my restlessness. Sometimes I'll do none of the above, sit in silence, and think. This doesn't help either. Out of frustration with my thoughts and disgust for the mess in the kitchen sink, I'll do the dishes. Usually after doing the dishes I forget my frustration. Now I don't know if the cure has to do with the mechanical, non-thinking, repetitive movement of washing dishes or the symbolic act of cleansing, but it works.

Modern man is starved of mechanical work, physical work. And our soul is suffering for it. Our head is king, and our heart and bodies its serfs.

I gotta start taking dance.


  1. I couldn't agree more with this post, and I thank you for putting it up.

  2. What was it that Charlotte said on Sex and the City? Something to the affect of "our parents believed that any mental frustrations could be cured through exercise...that's why we're all really good tennis players."

    Guess there's some truth in that afterall.

  3. Do it.

    Running is my body's meditation. We are made for motion, our muscles are made to work, and our entire self suffers if the body doesn't get what it needs.

  4. Keen observation. I often find that organizing my phyiscal world helps keep the psychospiritual one in check, too. Hmmm indeed.

  5. The beauty of balance...although do you thing the contruction worker or tarsh collector living in the bronx feels the same way?

  6. Good point, Steven. As you know, I did stone masonry for 10 years. And I feel that we all benefit from mechanical movement regardless of whether or not we consciously recognize this.

    That's kinda the point: our bodies teach our souls regardless of, or in spite of, our minds.

    Also, drudgery and exhaustive work is just as important to the soul as rejuvenating work.

  7. Take it. Dance that is :) It will be fun for ya!...I agree with Leslie's comment. I think exercise can cure more than we give it credit for :)

  8. I completely understand. I often clean the apartment to calm my nerves.

    My ideal job would be working with horses outside. I did that when I was fourteen and I always felt great working my muscles and breathing the outdoors air.

  9. What a great point...So what does one do when they are trapped indoors by cold rain and slick cobblestone sidewalks? Also, why don't the miles I walk daily as a city-dweller seem to fulfill my body's need for physical activity? Is it a need to race, a need to run, a need to sweat? (I somehow feel like you have all the answers.)

  10. Rona,

    Don't know if you subscribed to the comments of this post or if you'll ever come back to this, but that's a good question.

    I think it'd work if you skipped down the sidewalk or did cartwheels in the park. With dishes you have to think a little while walking is like breathing.