07 June 2018

Loss

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, March 2011 

The leader at the Buddhist Centre primed us for visions of dogs on Tuesday. She said the mind was a dog, that you don't drag on a lead, but whistle to come walk with you. When I closed my eyes, my consciousness appeared as a white husky, with one blue and one green eye. I was a little boy and the husky was bigger than me, but I held the collar from the underside and we walked through the snow. There was snow for some reason. I could hear and feel it under me until a thought which I can't remember now dissolved it like a sugar cube in my mouth.

My weight is back to wherever it is I think it should be, and nine times out of ten this month, or these last ten days, I’ve had my morning routine, placing the scale on the cold tiles that Wayne the Builder and Chris put in over the winter, stripping naked, and weighing myself. The scale tells me, based on my body fat percentage and weight and age and a Japanese algorithm, that my body age, my true age, is thirty five, down from thirty eight or nine. When I’m manic, I can’t weigh myself because I am afraid of it. When I dieted, the weighing was a competition with myself to get lower and lower. Now, I don’t know if my mind is any more healthy. It’s not, it can’t be. The scale beeps and beeps again there are two numbers. You can do with them whatever you want.

I haven’t been fat this year, and fat in the empirical sense, in the terms of however any doctors define it, by BMI or body fat percentage, or looking at you and declaring you fat. This has never happened to me, no one has called me fat for years. I’ve never been more that slightly overweight in a medical sense since I was in Japan. But I am still fat.

At thirty-five, almost thirty six, I am also now free to be fat because I have money and a wife and children. It’s expected, preferred even. And of course, none of this matters, because I remember being thin, those years ago when Mia was baking along inside Yoko and we were in Turkey and I wasn’t just healthy, but thin. Thin for me, at least, even though I was still fat.

You feel thin when you cross your legs in the pew at St Peters, looking up at the stained glass and waiting in the moment for the service to start. You can think about nothing when you don’t have to think about food. You feel thin when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the storefront having bought new trousers that fit you as a thin person. Those same trousers can, of course, betray you in several months when you fail and aren’t thin anymore, but that moment, walking with confidence and getting a new haircut and trying on clothes as a thin person, you feel thin.

My dad once criticised me for being vain, as I looked at myself in sunglasses in the car mirror before football practice. I go back there in my mind all the time, ‘Vanity is about pride, excessive pride. This, what you see here manifest in me as a twelve-year-old, is not pride, but is me trying to love myself, to have any sense of confidence or happiness. It’s clear to me now, as you say this to me, and as I consider the next twenty years I will ruminate about it, that self-love is impossible when you hold a doctrine of sin.’

The husky is there again, but then the bell rings and we all come back. White Tara, have you appeared to me in the form of a dog. What is the ontological truth. I close my eyes again, hoping, a phantom body hanging around me, reminding me there is no such thing as loss. Everything is always still with you.
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