Re-entry Program

I have recently ordered three, what I’m calling “modern-day Muumuu’s”—you know the casual, long flowing house dresses that your mom wore around pregnancy. No I’m not pregnant. Besides, if I were, I should be sporting the tight-fitting, baby-bump-revealing style of clothes that’s so in fashion… Did I mention that I accidentally ordered one of those dresses too? A couple of months ago shopping online, I saw a very cute turtleneck sweater dress ready to prepare me for the Minnesota winter. Did I pay attention to the product description, much less the suggestive name? Of course not—

It is called the HATCH X balloon sleeve sweater dress.

Imagine my surprise upon reading the product description on the tag (after my mother read it first!)…

Product Description: We teamed up with HATCH, the NYC-based brand for mamas-to-be, on a streamlined capsule collection—for work, weekends, wherever—made to fit you (and your bump) through every stage. In supersoft merino wool, this easy midi-length dress is for those days when you want to look polished, but really don’t feel like doing the whole waistband thing…

Well, anyway, back to the Muumuus. Who really needs pants when you rarely step outside? Isn’t the product description spot on here, whether you’re expecting or not, that “doing the whole waistband thing” is a waste?!

And then reality sets in. Husband comes home and I make a comment about his oversized cargo pants (circa 1990s) being too big for him. He proceeds to tell me a 39 year old shouldn’t be wearing a Muumuu. It’s unattractive. Slam. I had already ordered the Muumuus, of course.

We recovered, deciding that giving each other fashion advice was perhaps not necessary—for instance, I argued, the Muumuu is intended to be oversized, that is the style, it’s stylish, I went on. It could have been desperation. I wanted my Muumuus. My waistband deserved freedom.

Now, you may be wondering why all this pants hatred? What is this doing in the grander scheme of society and culture? Well, not much in a direct way. BUT. As points to my productivity here at the home office, trying to find some genius, creative read-out on all this data, I think a whole heck of a lot. 

Coming off a 120-day journey where all I wore was a compression tri-suit for half of each day—let me explain, this is a body suctioning, squeeze all the parts in, shorts and top contraption that once sweated in is nearly impossible to repaint onto the body. Anyhow, 120 days in that. 120 days listening. 120 days all coming together like Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, and now I just need to let go, release, unpin.

Obviously I take things literally, but sometimes taking a feeling and making it real, physical, is the best way to understand it. A few days ago I went outside to make a dance, trying to make things physical. But I was leaning on old habits—nothing sophisticated. Just find a track on the iPod, put it in headphones, play. The body responds, the iPhone camera records it, the ephemeral moment is made archival.

This is not right. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to dance. How to move. Or maybe I just don’t move that same way anymore—something has shifted inside me. Perhaps it comes down to how to move the emotions out of me, whether spontaneously, improvisationally, or in a more thoughtful way. I believe these feelings, from this long journey, are thick and tangled, almost impenetrable if approached in this superficial way. 

I need to take systematic care, listening to the physical, the real, connecting it back with the emotional, through the tangled web of story. The physical mundane everyday things that keep me indoors, keep me transcribing data, keep me boiling an egg each morning, keep me drinking wine at night, keep me going to the gym, keep me standing at my desk. This is the re-entry program.

This, and to sit with Siddhartha:

Siddhartha made an effort to listen better. The image of his father,his own image, the image of his son merged, Kamala’s image also appeared and was dispersed, and the image of Govinda, and other images, and they merged with each other, turned all into the river, headed all, being the river, for the goal, longing, desiring, suffering, and the river’s voice sounded full of yearning, full of burning woe, full of unsatisfiable desire. For the goal, the river was heading, Siddhartha saw it hurrying, the river, which consisted of him and his loved ones and of all people, he had ever seen, all of these waves and waters were hurrying, suffering, towards goals, many goals, the waterfall, the lake, the rapids, the sea, and all goals were reached, and every goal was followed by a new one, and the water turned into vapour and rose to the sky, turned into rain and poured down from the sky, turned into a source, a stream, a river, headed forward once again, flowed on once again. But the longing voice had changed. It still resounded, full of suffering, searching, but other voices joined it, voices of joy and of suffering, good and bad voices, laughing and sad ones, a hundred voices, a thousand voices.

Siddhartha listened. He was now nothing but a listener, completely concentrated on listening, completely empty, he felt, that he had now finished learning to listen. Often before, he had heard all this, these many voices in the river, today it sounded new. Already, he could no longer tell the many voices apart, not the happy ones from the weeping ones, not the ones of children from those of men, they all belonged together, the lamentation of yearning and the laughter of the knowledgeable one, the scream of rage and the moaning of the dying ones, everything was one, everything was intertwined and connected, entangled a thousand times. And everything together, all voices, all goals, all yearning, all suffering, all pleasure, all that was good and evil, all of this together was the world. All of it together was the flow of events, was the music of life. And when Siddhartha was listening attentively to this river, this song of a thousand voices, when he neither listened to the suffering nor the laughter, when he did not tie his soul to any particular voice and submerged his self into it, but when he heard them all, perceived the whole, the oneness, then the great song of the thousand voices consisted of a single word, which was Om: the perfection.

Herman Hesse