As the old sing, so twitter the young…
1668 painting by Jan Steen
I’m working on a book: A Beginner’s Guide to Fear. It’s a portrait of a class of eight students confronting their fear of deep water, based on the classes I teach and the students I’ve had. Fear. We get great helpings of it sluiced through our devices, mine being a computer which opens to the New York Times website. We watch, or read about a Republican convention in which fear is the foremost, the only, motivator aside from power. It works, even for us bleeding heart liberals. We turn away awash in fear. Fear of Trump and those people, some of whom are my relatives, and yours too.
Fear. It’s a construction, a built-up thing. In the water there are ways to deconstruct it. Slow down. Feel your body. On land, I suppose, you could say the same. Sit still. Meditate. The thing that makes my teaching easier than what a shrink does is the water itself. It offers a balm of sensation, and, according to a recent Times column, submerging up to your heart increases blood flow to the brain by as much as fourteen percent. That’s why I’m so smart and so mellow.
Right. I often find myself stuck in the perennial codger mind-set: what’s the damn world coming to? Everyone walking around hands and noses glued to the stupid phones, cafes full of zombies, lanes jammed with black SUV’s. No doubt there’s a big component of fear in my dyspepsia. The good shrink might ask, are you afraid of being displaced by the young, in the same way the Trumpistas are afraid of being displaced by the Other?
Never mind. I’m going to the pool and jumping in.