Category Archives: aspiring to apnea

spinning tired carless twist focus FLIP epic. And underwater pie.

Difficulty concentrating today.  

Strange bruises up and down my forearms from spinning (staff-spinning!  Am learning to spin staves and holy hellfire is it awesome).  

I tend to go looking for food when I'm tired.  (Yes, when you're polyphasic you have more chances to sleep, but you also have to miss less of them due to stress before you feel ickyshit.)  Thankfully apples are tasty and make me feel full, so yay lack of nutritional consequences.

I will be carless again for a while, it looks like.  I had gone a year carless, rather enjoying that you can do this in Boston and I'd never done it before, until I bought my last car six months ago.  That car (which darnit, I loved) was totaled in an accident this month, and I won't be able to afford to replace it for a while, so back to carless I go!  To keep it from being depressing, I will treat it as an adventure, a reason to get better at fixing my bike and skateboarding on the very lumpy streets and sidewalks, and an opportunity to learn some more cultural lessons.

I owe a video to, um, who or whatever I'm doing the videos for.  Better be quick before too much else builds up to talk about, I think.  One thing I'll put here to save myself some time there:  Physical exertion often brings about some degree of 3D; I think that's in part why some people do it, especially the really extreme/scary kinds.  BUT it feels TOTALLY different to do it on purpose, for example when you're swimming six inches from the bottom on your tenth consecutive underwater pool-length with twenty or less seconds to breathe in-between, and there's nobody there to make you keep going all the way to the other wall but you need to if you want to get better, so as a last-ditch effort you reach in and twist…and suddenly you're looking at the bottom of the pool in 3D, and your heart-rate drops and you make it the rest of the way clean and easy as underwater pie.

One other interesting 3D thing:  What you see in 3D, you remember.  Something about that focus writes things really, really clearly into your (or at least my) mind.  I can still count the dirt-grains on the pool-bottom, and that was two days ago.  Hmm!

Had my evals for taiji today.  Am doing okay — fundamentals getting a bit ahead of form, but it's warm out so I'm adding forms-practice in the park some mornings starting next week.  Had an AMAZING experience where the instructor is patiently explaining, explaining, explaining how to switch focus (I KNOW RIGHT) from using muscular force to allowing chi-force (later; that's a book and a half) to drive your movements, and I've heard it before but suddenly I get it, it happens, and the whole physical world goes FLIP HAHA and oh my shit, I feel awesome.  It lasts about thirty seconds, but it was thirty seconds I'd have gladly paid a year's tuition for again and again.  That…well, if 3D is a different dimension of attention, this was the corresponding different dimension of physical control.  (And think about how easy it is to control where your attention is — how little effort it takes to move it — versus how easy it is to control your entire body, and you'll realize why it takes decades to learn this thing.  The analogy is conjecture of course, but I'll stand by it for now.)  

And writing is awesome…I'm 7/10 done with my novella (yup), I think my epic poem about Detroit is finished (yeah I know) and I got an idea for an updated Desiderata-type bit of prose that's only about 1/3 finished but really fun (shut up hehe).  

The key to difficult times is knowing where your keys are.  Mine are in taiji, in writing, and in being able to communicate with people — having contact and conversations, and maybe also some drinking and snogging if I'm lucky.  ;)  So however tricky and tired and expensive and etcetera things are lately, I know that I'm doing okay, because I know what lights to measure by. 

May yours be known and shine bright, too!


Oo, I was good all day, and enjoyed it even, but come eveningtime — when I get the most snacky — the having of cheater-food in the house from yesterday totally caught up with me, and I ate a bunch of (lovely, lovely) chocolate.  Now I feel a familiar kinda sick.  ::sigh::

I will HAVE to get better about this if I'm to survive the holidays without gaining a few millimeters of bioprene*, that's for sure.  Hockey was even canceled today because so many of our players are out of town — augh I hate the holidays sometimes!

In more interesting/relevant news, I realized that I forgot to point out a wrench that polyphasic sleep throws into this diet — eating a high-protein breakfast within a half-hour of waking is tough when you wake up at four a.m. and only went to bed a few hours earlier!  Of course, if I didn't eat in the evenings — which I shouldn't, especially sugary shit, I know; that's kind of the point of this I guess — might not be so bad, but on days like today when I add about 300 calories after 11pm, it's going to suck.  Must fix must fix must fix….



*bioprene:  A much-loved diving term for layers of "naturally-occurring neoprene", which, of course, makes you float.  ;)


EDIT:  Threw out the rest of the chocolate.  Tomorrow night I need to remember how I felt tonight — heart-poundy, sickish, sluggish, and icky.  Before I got into the sweets, I had vegetables as a "late snack" and felt great, and was looking forward to breakfast; then I went and ruined it.  Best antedote is to not do it again!  ::goes to bed humming selfhacker mantras::

Attention, the gift of loss

You've heard the saying "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" — but have you really considered all that it might mean?  I hadn't.

Practically, pragmatically, literally, loss and deprivation are great ways to force yourself to become more fully conscious of something.  Of its value to you, sure; but that's just one aspect of it.  When you lose something, you don't just wish you had it back:  You feel all the little crevices it had filled.  You startle awake a little every time you pass a dimple in your life that it had filled, or a bump it had smoothed over.  You pay attention, for a while, to every. tiny. way. in which that thing meant something to you, changed you, was part of you.  And that pain, whether it's dull or sharp, horrible or sort of sweet, urgent or gentle, snaps you into full awareness like almost no other sensation can.

That saying isn't just melancholy, and it doesn't just refer to a simple irony:  It's an important fact of our existence.  In order to understand something, go without it; and if you have to go without something, recognize in that experience the gift you're being given:  the ability to understand it deeply, fully, in all its subtle interactions with you, in a way that you might never be able to pull off otherwise.

Sure it hurts a bit; sure it's unpleasant.  If you're still thinking that life means "pleasant things good, unpleasant things bad", then I humbly request that you remove your head from your arse as quickly as possible; there's not much air up there.

And speaking of air, that's where this post comes from (no, not my arse, you cheeky drongo you):  I have a nearly four-minute static breathhold now, and an 87.5 yard dynamic (length I can swim on one breath; 3.5 pool-lengths, in other words) — and while I've spent my whole life studying singing, meditating, and other breath-related stuff, I can honestly say that I didn't know shit about my mind and body's relationship with air until I explored the often-incredibly-unpleasant edges of just flat going without it.  

So I'm actually a bit slow to get this meta-lesson, about loss and the really detailed and super valuable knowledge of things it can give you; considering that I've already had this experience with sleep and to a lesser degree, food (remember my fasting experiments?), it's weird that it took playing with apnea to really hammer home how almost supernatural the understanding that you gain from deprivation really is.  I mean, I knew that learning to sleep polyphasically a few times, pushing through sleep-deprivation to my limits, taught me a ton about how sleep and living were related (shit, I think I've kind of written a book on it at this point); but because my experiments with loss of sleep had another purpose, I didn't really consider the depth of the value of what I'd learned.  Similarly, food; I was fasting in order to try it and to see if I could, which isn't the same as giving that attention its real due (see next paragraph), so it didn't sink in.  And like most people, the losses of love I've experienced rarely, if ever, struck me as valuable for anything other than a chance to pay some of my wading-through-awful-times-in-life karma.  But air — maybe because the experiences of losing it are so quick, and so physically powerful — really rammed it home.  During my last major exercise with breath-hold, I realized that by experiencing this deprivation, I was doing a lot more than teaching myself a discipline:  I was internalizing details about what air is, and how my body exists in this world, that I maybe never could have learned any other way.

"Asceticism" is the term usually given to the practice of seeking knowledge-by-deprivation; but like many -isms, it can easily be done in a way that misses the point.  The point isn't to be deprived just to be deprived, or to show how far you can go with it or how much pain you can stand — the point is to force-feed yourself attention, and to learn everything that loss has to teach you about the things that are important in life.  

Attention is why pain is the best teacher, and loss the best path to full understanding.  They're not fun experiences, and if you find them unbearable then there's no need to seek them out — but you will encounter some losses anyway, so it's not a bad idea to try and remember that, while they hurt, they can also give you super-powers.