Monday, February 06, 2006

My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down

In Dreams

As a species, our subconscious mind is a dark, eerie stew of suppressed fears, memories and desires. But if the collective unconscious is a rich, fertile brew, I think my subconscious might be a bouillon cube the size of a cinder block. Dreams are weird, weird things for everybody, but at least three times a week for as long as I can remember I have been the central character in an seriously intense funhouse of a film written by chimps and edited by LSD-fueled octopi.

When I'm not having paranoid, violent delusions in my sleep that leave me panting, sweaty and needing dental repair, I usually revisit the same theme: I am taking a leisurely stroll through a garden and can use my hands and feet interchangeably. Although there is no noticeable increase in the muscle mass of my arms, I can support my body's weight on hands that never tire or step on shards of glass. My pectoral muscles are never the size of asscheeks, as they would have to be if this were to happen in real life.

I can just flip right over on an invisible axis of symmetry and balance that runs through my waist, and continue a normal stroll. The people walking beside me never take any notice of it at all. Sometimes I pick fruit with my feet, which work just like hands. Other times birds alight on the soles of my feet and sing merry tunes -- their little feet and feathers never tickle.

There's something my subconscious is trying to tell me here, and the only way to read this message is to turn myself upside down. These dreams have happened for years, and last week I decided to do something about it.

I've started teaching myself to walk on my hands. It sounds simple enough, but the devil is in the details. For starters, I am six-two, weigh 220, and can barely walk upright for longer than twenty minutes at a stretch. I may be the only man outside of the professional stunt whose pants wear out as fast as his shoes through repeated collision with the earth.

So whenever I can, I steal down to the gym at work, scoot the aerobics steps aside and back my feet up against the wall, then walk the hands back to the wall until I feel like I could almost topple forward. It's only thirty seconds before my size thirteens come down with a dragging racket against the corrugated aluminum wall, and I sit there with patterns of larval dust bunnies tattooed against the back of my eyes until my arms quit shaking. Then, back up the wall.

This challenge seems to be as physical as it is mental. It's about determination, endurance, willpower. If a rabbit hole through space-time opens before my suspended head and sucks me in, and if that happens, so be it. I'm taking this thing as far as it goes, and I don't much care which way that road twists. Like the inspirational posters say, the journey of a lifetime (or something) starts with a single step -- in this case, that step will be taken upside-down.


At 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all a matter of balance. My capoeira instructor a few years ago was like 6'4, 280 with a cartoonish paunch and a bum shoulder, and you should have seen the shit he could do upside down. My advice is to keep your head facing forward (rather than look at the floor) and work on falling to the side (like the end of a cartwheel) rather than relying on the wall, so you get another axis of balance to work with. One hand, then the other. -Ezra


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