I've only been in the tank once before and I suppose I'm lucky it's one of the newer concepts in terms of spatial needs; or at least spatial needs in your mind although I'm pretty sure that even with the lights off and the outside sound eliminated, you still know exactly how big that space is or is not because guess what? YOU make noise and that noise exists within whatever space or chamber you happen to exist in and I'm pretty sure we know, at least to some extent, the size and shape of the space we occupy. Call me crazy, I'm just pretty sure about this. Although things do happen.
My tank is not actually a tank; it's a room. More like a shower / tub combination with a very high ceiling and it's wide and long and I can stretch out a fair amount without hitting the sides and I never once hit either end and I only bottomed out once and that's because I turned on my side. So, you see, it's not really a tank, not a pod, not an enclosure. It's a room with a door that happens to be tiled and filled with 10 inches of very salty water. It's kind of like floating in the Dead Sea in terms of saline content and buoyancy only it's clean.
I think, and I might be wrong, but I think if you put me in a pod with a lid I could touch with my fingers I would have a very different experience when you turned the light off. A coffin like experience. Could be wrong, but that's what I think.
Anyway, I went back in the tank last night. The only appointment I could get was an 8:30 - 9:30 slot but that sort of worked out because I'd have to leave my office at 7:30 and any earlier was going to be a little dicey so I didn't worry too much. What I remember last time was coming out a little funky and staying a little funky until at least the next morning. I went in the afternoon and I wasn't driving. I remember we went across the street for brunch and I wondered why I was drinking the bloody mary and I don't think I finished it. I was disconnected from most things for a while. This was November, 2009 and I was disconnected from a lot of things so I suppose it's hard to say. On the other hand, I had a lot to think about in November, 2009.
So I missed Saturday, well not really, you can't miss an entire day, it's not like Saturday didn't happen. I've only once managed to cancel an entire day and I have to tell you, that took an awful lot of effort. So Saturday happened, I just didn't manage to make of it what I meant to. Eff off, grammar police. :-)
I went to the tank instead.
So. I've finally worked this out. The Tank, capital T, for me, is like a giant savasana in the asana that is my life. And like any other enforced form of rest in the middle of exertion, a short savasana, like the 20 seconds that come between 60 or 120 seconds of exertion can be very easy and very effective if you learn to go right into them and use up every single second. You're not going to resist it, that's for sure, the real question is whether you'll get the full benefit by dropping completely still at the first count of 1.... Or will you spend the first 6 or 7 seconds arranging yourself just so on your mat and then another 3 to 5 precious seconds slowing your breathing and another 2 to 4 quieting your mind, leaving maybe just 7 seconds left for recovery which is what happens until you finally work out that you should just flip over and fall completely still.
Long savasana. Oh, well, that. I remember I used to make myself stay in the hot room until I didn't want to leave anymore because there was so much going on in my head it was just too damn uncomfortable. Or too much going on in my body I didn't want to deal with. Or both, or more of the above. So I learned to stay and sink into my mat and deal with whatever was there and it came up at me in waves and in the beginning when there was so much I just laid there and cried (quietly, dammit because it is a QUIET room and there are OTHER people in the quiet room) and eventually I quieted myself.
So The Tank. The tank is only an hour and I don't remember what it felt like the first time but last night was a very long hour. Not the sort of long where you lay there wondering when the hell you're going to get out but not the sort of thing like maybe when you're having a nice massage and suddenly it's over and you're thinking, FUCK! How the hell did it get to be an hour already?!
I think for some people it might be like that. For me, it is not like that. For me there is too much going on or it is too uncomfortable dealing with what's going on. This is not nirvana. Maybe if I went in there with nirvana on the brain? I don't know; I've never much trusted overly enlightened people who seem to be without struggle. Makes me want to peel their eyelids back and check for a third eyelid. Or something.
There were all these testimonials on the wall that I noticed on the way out the door and one was a local writer noting that all his 'blocks' were gone. I could see that. All of them? Maybe not so much. But some of them? Yep. If you're willing to have a real savasana then yes, some blocks are going to unblock.
Thing is I don't know for sure what unblocked last night. I know a lot went on in there. I know there's probably way too much to try to reach back and grasp for it. I know it's nothing like dreaming although at one point I startled and the water splashed. I know I was perfectly aware of the room dimensions but at one point the walls and the ceiling opened up and they weren't there anymore but that was only for a minute. I know my body temperature was fluctuating because the room temp sure as hell was not and if I go from hot to not so hot then that's me. I could hear the motor running so I packed the wax plugs a little tighter and then let it go and go it did. At one point I thought I heard footsteps echoing through the building and maybe, just maybe I was aware enough to actually pick that up. Maybe it was even on another floor. And I let it go.
I know my neck and shoulders ached and I remember being told that people instinctively try to hold their heads up and for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to stop whatever I was doing so I reached behind my head and pulled up and forward and noticed I had a tremendous range of motion where I generally don't. And then I let me head fall back. If I did that every once in awhile it was OK. And then I noticed my left foot was really uncomfortable. How is this possible? It's floating weightless, motionless. Nothing is touching it. I moved it around a little. Better. In the end, you know, everything quiets down and you can start to actually feel your body. I wonder what's up with my left foot? Why is it so heavy and tired? Or why is my left foot carrying all of that? Maybe I just need to notice.
In all of this there were multiple conversations and one of them was about the question are you privileged or are you not privileged and this came up because of one of those Facebook tests where you answer 100 questions and your score tells you that you either are not or you are whatever and I got a 43 out of 100 or something like that and it came back not privileged and I just laughed.
So it's subjective, of course and if you break it down and look at why I came back not privileged then the answer is, of course I'm not. I can see that. It's all subjective and everybody who defines it is self-righteous as hell about it too. For real. Just ask anybody who considers themselves not privileged. That particular demographic defines not privileged, is self-righteous as hell about it and god forbid anybody challenge it. For real. You can include me in that although I try to catch myself, I still know it's there.
I think what came up for me yesterday and then last night was this. Twice that I'm aware of I have lived below the poverty line. Add to that living conditions just a few years ago after a serious pay cut but fixed living expenses (YES, I can always walk away from a mortgage, but let's stick to the point, the ramifications of doing that are epic, affect millions of Americans and are an entirely other conversation so if you have a high horse to get on, get on it elsewhere) and my income after paying my fixed expenses to avoid foreclosure and vehicle repossession were below the poverty line for a little bit. I did not, however, lack a buffer so that really doesn't count. OK, yes it does. It counts if you're paying attention in terms of a reality check. Anyway, I have a point to make here. This particular test was about the way you were raised and what was available to you or what you had to contend with, how scarred you may or may not be based on what you may or may not have been exposed to or what may or may not have happened to you.
I maintained that based on where I lived, by proxy I was privileged no matter what may or may not have happened to me or how I may or may not have lived at any point in my life but there's more to it then that. I think it comes down to this: I think it's about the realm of what's possible in my head. What is it I think I can have and do.
I remember my dad saying at one point when I was either in my late 20s or early 30s that I faked a college degree better than anyone he knew. I don't think I knew how to respond to that then but I certainly know how to respond to it now. First, a little background; my dad was the first in his family, in his generation to go to college, the first to graduate. So this is / was a new thing. My dad did not have anyone go before him. He created this belief system, this way of being and this life out of nothing but a dream and expectation that it could probably happen. His sibling and cousins followed him. Neither of his children 'did it right'. It probably drove him to near apoplectic fits. My mother, on the other hand, was not the first of anything. Her father was, but not her mother so there was plenty of precedent and belief and well, here we go, birthright.
So what is there to learn in college? If you are fairly bright and well read and write fairly well and learn quickly and can carry yourself through a conversation, well, um, not much unless there's something specific like, accounting. A general degree program, liberal arts or whatever we call it now? Nothing. No Thing. Useless as not quite recycled air. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a good education, by the way; I'm just saying it doesn't equate to being necessary to much of anything. It looks damn good on a resume too. There is that. But the statement was 'fake a college education'. Not, fake a resume. I never did that. I just never put a date of graduation.
But here's the thing. Not everybody can do this. For real. Not everybody can put on their mother's shoes and suit (metaphorically or otherwise) and walk into an office, catch on as quickly as possible and then proceed to excel. Not everyone can do that. Most people need that piece of paper or think they do. I didn't need it. My brother didn't need that when he talked his way into a Master's program without a single undergraduate credit. I don't need it because to be here in Corporate America is my birthright.
THAT is privilege.
I am here because my parents came before me. I am here because my mother came before me. I am here because I choose to be here and these doors are open to me. I am here because I grew up with two parents telling me I was smart, bright, intelligent and that I could do whatever I wanted to do. I didn't get the negative stuff until the really positive stuff had been drilled in good and deep. The negative stuff came when I had a personality and ideas of my own and stopped being obedient but it was too late. I already believed enough...
I am here and have had multiple career changes also because I didn't have a single career choice laid on me by either parent. There *were* no expectations (except the go to college part which I didn't do right). This is interesting. My career paths have been similar to my mother's at least on the outside but I think this is based on aptitude, the rest of it is accidental and it's nowhere near identical.
So there's that.
Lastly there's the fact that I found myself laying naked inside that tank last night. That I even knew to do that. That I knew how to do that, where to go, how much to expect to pay, to shower before and after, to remove my jewelry, how to plug my ears, where to hang my things and exactly how much time I had to get out before they'd come looking for me after the music came up to signal my session end. It's all the same.
Knowing this is privilege. Period. Knowing it, doing it, without even thinking about how I know it. All of these things.
Even if I lost everything I would still have the birthright of knowing what is possible and how to get at them whether I choose to reach for those things or not. That is privilege.
So the timing of turning fifty and going into the tank and having the accident and getting pulled over on the Taconic and a whole bunch of other things is not accidental. All of these things that I've been struggling with have been coming to a head. I have been writing about how they show up in my relationship because that's probably the biggest part of my life or the broadest spectrum emotionally. It's also the easiest point of attack, for me, for you, for anyone. Writing about it had some pretty horrific effects too. I didn't just get to vent, or examine, I got to lay myself and NM open to attack which pretty much sucked as it turned out because the point was to look but I'm getting off topic.
One of the things I had to look at in the end was whether or not I was really hanging in or slipping.
I'm not slipping like I slipped in 2008 but I'm slipping all the same and I can feel it. I'm slipping in small ways that leave me vulnerable and unable to cope with things that I ought to be able to cope with. My communication skills are deteriorating.
Time to do something about this. The do something about this is a little scary and I'm in the process of making some changes. They're scary changes, or at least scary to me. I have a good support structure in terms of medical support. All I had to do was make a couple of phone calls and put the same structure I had three years ago right back in place.
Sitting up in the dark chamber when the music came into the room. Reaching for the wash cloth to dry my face as the water ran out of my hair. Reaching for the button to turn on the soft blue light and whispering into the not quite complete dark...
You will be alright.
The drive home was the longest 20 minute drive I can remember. It felt like I'd never get there. I'm not sure why this was. It took until 10:30 to convince Elizabeth's father that I really wasn't going to talk to him. Wasn't going to talk to anyone. At least not last night. I sat down with Elizabeth, who is staying up late and sleeping very late because there isn't any school this week and she said, aren't you going to bed? I said, I don't think so. I turned on something that looked like it was just under 90 minutes and she laughed and said, you're watching movie, good luck, Mom!
I did watch it actually. The entire thing. And then I got up abruptly and went to bed. Abruptly. As abruptly as I've ever done anything and I haven't told the half of it but that last part. That last part is what counts. The soliloquy on privilege was just a small epiphany and only one of 20 or so conversations happening on and off, criss crossing like string art or laser security systems...