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“Relax into the blow”

A grey, wet, mild Friday morning in C’town, and you’ll be happy to hear that sanity and calm have returned to this fevered brow. I remembered something important at 4 a.m. this morning. When I went to a prestigious British theatre school in 1971, I didn’t expect that one of my most important lessons would come from stage fighting class, where we learned to stab and kick and smash heads realistically. We all had to do a choreographed fight in front of the British Board of Stage Fight Directors – the Romeo-Tybalt fight with swords, knives, and feet – and though I was easily one of the clumsiest, I along with everyone else was awarded the Certificate of Proficiency in Stage Fighting, one of my prized possessions, which hangs framed in my downstairs bathroom.

Our marvellous teacher was B.H. Barry, who now works in New York and was recently, I was thrilled to see, the subject of a short profile in the New Yorker. He taught us a lot. And most importantly, he taught us this: Relax into the blow.

If you are rigid and tense when the blow comes, it will hurt much more. If you’re loose and relaxed, you’ll move with the blow and it will hurt much less, do less damage.

At 4 a.m. this morning, I heard him again: Relax into the blow. What’s the point of fretting about what is or what may be, or, for that matter, the mistakes of the past? No point. You’re alive, you’re fine. Let it go, as someone famously sang. Relax. Put your mind to other tasks.

Friends have been offering retreats – Ruth offered a basement room, my neighbour Monique gave me her key and said come in anytime – and I think in the new year I will take them up on it. Sitting here while the demolition crashes above my head does not help. I will continue to sleep here, to guard my house and to be home. But I will try to get away during the day.

That’s when work resumes, which may not, because of the snafus, be for some weeks. But I will not fret. I will relax into the blow and think of other things and keep my gut loose and my mind clear. I am a famously tense, uptight person, always seeing the possible worst. But I will change that. I will.

It wasn’t yesterday, it’s today the termite guys come to begin the process, which will continue after Xmas and in the spring. I will relax as they poke around in the chewed-up wood of my kitchen. Because how lucky am I – the experts are here to make sure these bugs go away and never come back. I will not think about the cost, because what’s the point? It has to be done.

Fifteen minutes ago, I sent a PDF of the memoir to RePrint. I’m going there anyway to get colour xeroxes made – I put together a collage yesterday of photos of my kids when they were small, mostly with their grandfathers, will get that reproduced for them and might as well have a hard copy of the latest draft. I hope to send it in the next week or two to the editor.

There’s life in these old bones yet.



2 Responses to ““Relax into the blow””

  1. theresa says:

    THis is very good advice. I'm taking it to heart…

  2. beth says:

    I hope you don't have a serious reason to, Theresa, as I don't – the blow here being complications of a reno and the absurdities of life generally, but not health, not family, not love, not what really matters. Though we all know, the blows will come. Because we're alive. And a Merry Christmas to you too!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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