Canada has been on my mind a lot recently. Partially because of international media coverage after the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. Partially because Prime Minister Trudeau got weird amounts of attention for his poufy hair and fancy socks at the G7 in Cornwall. But mostly because I haven’t been on Canadian soil for a year and a half.
That’s a long absence for me.
As more people are fully vaccinated (in Switzerland and Canada) and COVID-19 infection rates are going down in both countries, travel is starting to re-open. But plotting a trip ‘home’ has been complicated by quarantine requirements, lack of flights, previous commitments, and, above all, so much uncertainty.
As long as I can remember, my skin has been prone to redness. Exercise turns my face into a blotchy tomato. Cold and wind burnish my skin to a ruddy shine. Even washing my face, no matter how gently, leaves it pink. And there’s a good reason I apply SPF 50 daily—UV rays and I are not friends!
I’ve dealt with acne and/or rosacea (dermatologists can’t agree which is the underlying issue) most of my adult life and have tried just about everything to fix it. Cutting out dairy. Limiting processed sugar. Applying expensive creams. Buying celeb-endorsed treatment systems (Proactiv was both ineffective and bleached my pillowcases). Using prescription ointments. Attempting hormonal intervention (so thankful to be off the pill!). Taking antibiotics… then different antibiotics… and even more kinds of antibiotics. And now retinoids, which at least deliver moderate improvement.
Earlier this week my mum mentioned that it would have been her father’s 104th birthday. It shocked me to realise how long ago he passed away… more than a decade and a half. Despite not having many memories of my younger years (I’m told I had a happy childhood and the photos certainly support that!), I’ve retained strong impressions of my grampa. They’re mostly fleeting images or smells or a remembered turn of phrase or tone of voice; often comforting and rarely complete. And sometimes those memories arise at strange times.
I started a creative writing course in September and our first assignment was to write a 500-word story with only one primary character and one primary setting—not a heck of a lot of space to develop anything. Thankfully walking the dog (or more accurately standing around while she wanders slowly from sniff to sniff) gives me lots of time to mull over story ideas. That slow-paced dog walking was the genesis of the fictionalised episode I created for the assignment and have included below.
“Hari om, tat sat. Hari om, tat sat. The practice of yoga nidra concludes.”
Satisfied that the class has surrendered to the spell of my voice, I sink down to the bolster, knees out to the side, ankles crossed. From this so-called easy pose, I observe my prone students enjoying their supervised nap—but hopefully without the actual REM state.
The perfect balance of scheduled activities and free time at the retreat left me a lot of thinking space, which included pondering my ambition to write a book. I’ve been mulling over writing about breath and breathing from a variety of perspectives,1 but haven’t buckled down and gotten much of anything done.
No solid outline, nothing drafted, just a bit of research, some scattered ideas, and a few bookmarked websites. My initial goal was to have an outline complete by the end of 2013, but almost 10 months have passed and I have found all sorts of other activities to occupy my time.
With the space to think about my nebulous dream to write a non-fiction book as enjoyable and informative as Mary Roach’s Stiff, I realized that I don’t have the necessary ambition – at least, not right now. I’m unwilling to muster the motivation and discipline to make it happen, which is making me feel guilty and delinquent. Those feelings, in turn, make me less willing to commit to writing and less likely to produce anything meaningful.
So, I’m tossing the idea of writing a book overboard. I’m abandoning my thesis on breath and breathing… and letting go of guilt.
Perhaps I’ll circle back to the idea of writing a book later on, but for now I’ll content myself with posting travelogues and recipes!
1 Possible perspectives on breath and breathing:
physical – drawing on my own experiences with blocked breathing and nasal surgery
spiritual – informed by my religious studies and yoga background
athletic – tapping a network of athletic experts and high-level athletes for insight