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Alertness Gym

Dreamed 1994/4/19 by Chris Wayan

I'm on a date with a girl who's hard to describe--one minute dumpy and dumb, the next beautiful and intelligent. I don't get it. But in both of her phases, we communicate badly--smart or not, pretty or not, she misunderstands me and I'm awkward with her. She seems bored with me a lot, and not in cycles. But I'm not sure; she makes no effort to cut the date short. Maybe I'm misinterpreting her expression as boredom, or maybe she thinks looking bored is cool,or maybe she LIKES being bored... dreamer crawls atop restaurant table to get close to date.

Dinner in a fancy restaurant--where I'm allergic to most of the entrees. Oh, well, dating's not about food, is it? I have to lean across the table to talk to her--the table they gave us is so damn wide it's like a sea. Hello? Hello? Eventually, without even noticing, I creep up onto the table, lie on my belly, spanning its width with my body, only my toes on my chair... What am I, the entree?

I don't think the maitre d' likes us. We aren't very respectable. Not just me! While I flop on the table, she's been spreading crayons all over, dropping them on the floor. Waiters step and logroll. Soup goes flying. Flying saucers... What a mess! And she doesn't care what he thinks, either. Wow! it isn't just me! Others can be socially embarrassing too. I'm not uniquely awful. For a while, we have fun offending them--though we still can't talk very well.

Sink back into awkward silence.

Finally the maitre d' suggests we move to a smaller table. We agree, relieved. I pick up crayons--some are mine, too: the erasable ones. I must pick them out. I do...

Yes, this table's better. I can hear her now. She says "I'm European. I EXPECT American men to be weird and awkward, so I'm not upset that you are."

Run into a couple of Euro friends of hers. She talks to them vigorously--with the same langorous expression I took for boredom! So it wasn't me at all--her look is meant to be bohemian, glamorous... Weltschmaltz? Zeitscheiss? One of those unpronounceable German feelings.

She says she hasn't touched me much "because it's so terribly hot"--though it doesn't seem hot to me. She has a bit of a headache from the terrible heat. I look at her head from a healer's point of view, not an anxious dating-novice's, and suddenly I'm massaging her head. She seems very sexy now, and I feel a rush of excitement...

We walk along touching and talking more freely and comfortably, though I still slip back into "She's bored, she doesn't like me..." Ho hum!

We come to an institute she knows. I peer into the central quad. A swimming pool! There's a high-dive board, though I can only see its shadow from here. A sexy shadow... a sharp silhouette of a girl climbing up and leaping off in an Olympic-class multiple flip, an aerial ballet... Sexy, riveting--and a little scary.

I look furtively, scared my date'll be mad I'm looking at another woman's shadow. But she's Euro, not American, not puritan. Expects me to look, and admire. She is, herself.

She leads me in.

This school teaches a variant of Gurdjieff's simple philosophy: "WAKE UP!" Exercises to make you alert. In fact it's a gym for alertness, for the mind and senses not muscles. All around, people in leotards sweating--but not from lifting weights. Sweat of concentration--and fear! They must act, sing, dance, flirt, socialize, dissent, lecture, climb, balance... whatever tasks are hardest for them. They stay alert, focused, calm--or fall!

A few really are lifting weights, but it's not about piling on the metal, but feeling how even relatively small efforts shape the body. And not just new muscle--new balance, new habits, new bone, new nerves!

girl in red leotard lifts small hand weight; dreamdrawing by Wayan.
The school motto is:

"Remember the Motto!"

No, wait, that's wrong. As I wrote the dream I went blank, asked my brain to retrieve it, and this is what popped up as a placeholder. Sorry, not alert enough...

A teacher, a tall thin man she knows, comes out and shows us a trick: he tosses coins, like a penny-tossing game, but he lobs them in 5-meter arcs and hits every target within a centimeter. Incredible accuracy. I pick up some of the coins--and find they're not pennies but quarters. Bigger changes than I thought...

A wino in the corner is trying to learn penny tossing--starting with small change, eh?--hunched in an alcoholic haze, pitching them a foot or two and losing them. Inept, but he's pushing his personal limits, and that's what matters.

A bum carrying all his stuff in a big sack is walking around the courtyard, noticing flowers among the weeds by back the fence, and happily pointing them out to the rest of us.

Another teacher, a barefoot woman in gauze robes like Isadora Duncan, comes out and shows us a vivid dance pose in relevée.

I try it, but an inner voice starts telling me "It's too hard, I'm not stable up on my toes." Well, it IS hard--but I'm talking myself out of getting it.

She shows me again...

Walk on with my date. We're touching more. I pet her, enjoying it. "What do you want to do now?" she says.

"Kiss you, then..." I blush. I'm too shy to say more. Yet.

"We could go to my house..." she says, still with that cool bored expression. I realize sex for her is just fun--no big deal. Never been scary as it is for me.

That makes us unequal--I feel vulnerable, I get involved, I fall in love. She could hurt me easily, since it means much more to me.

But it's good too, she calms me, blocks drama, gives a cooler view.

The next alertness-gym exercise for me! Though I wonder what her next is...

Dropping her cool?


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