Wednesday, August 28, 2019

a moment in the day: float

I don't know how long I've been floating in this sensory deprivation tank. The session is supposed to last ninety minutes and right now I'm thinking maybe I've been floating for two hours. And I'm thinking maybe I've been floating for thirty minutes. There was that indeterminate amount of time at the beginning where I was drifting here waiting for them to turn the lights out before I realized I was the one who was supposed to turn the lights out—how long was that?—and I have no idea how long it's been since.

I've probably been doing this wrong. Surprised by the texture of the silk-slick water, I've spent a bunch of time moving around, running my arms and legs through it, setting myself to swirling and bobbing in the black. Staging my own private Busby Berkeley By a Waterfall musical number to no music.

By the name, a sensory deprivation tank is supposed to be about getting you out of your body and into your mind, but I've been completely anchored in my body the whole time, hyper-aware of the strange buoy of myself in the water, the tiny droplets ticking across my skin, the sound of my heartbeat behind the muffle of the earplugs.

At the same time, I'm uncomfortable in my body when there's no clothing to separate me from myself. I've been trying to lay my body out across this weird cushion of water and allow myself to just be. I don't know how to do that.

My brain says to me: let yourself go.

My brain says to me: don't be afraid to be big in the world.

I'm not the size I was when I was forty. Thirty. Ye gods, twenty. When we're no longer young enough to be Busby Berkeley girls with tiny, youthful bodies, we spend far too much time wishing we could shrink and hide ourselves, and truth be told, it would be nice to know how to allow myself to be big in the world.

The drift of the water presses my shoulder softly against the edge of the tub. I reach out and push myself off, into a twirl.


Being big in the world could also mean letting yourself get away with doing what you want for once. Stopping all that worrying about whether you're doing it wrong like I've been worrying about whether I'm doing this wrong. I wonder what Stephen's doing in the next tank over. Maybe he's meditating peacefully, having epiphanies in the bobbing blackness. I should be having epiphanies.

I'll bet like forty percent of people pee in the tank.

OK, fourteen. Maybe fourteen.

I lay my body out across this weird cushion of water and try to allow myself to just be.

My brain says to me: to be big in the world, you have to reach beyond yourself.

You have to do something big and good, something that's not about yourself. Working and coming home and hanging out with friends and writing and designing book covers is a wonderful life, but it's not being big in the world.

The music begins, to signal the end of the session.

My brain says to me: what are you going to do?