the imaginary middle step

POSTCARD#350: Bangkok: Note: I started to write this post on 6th July because it was my birthday. Pretty soon it came to be too much of a revelatory thing to suit a simple chorus of Happy Birthday To You, but this is how it is, we live in strange times.

Seems to me, that Mind makes up a reason for things being the way they are, arbitrarily. It just comes out of nowhere. The mysterious and slightly sinister thing about this is that I (self) allowed it to get to be this way, knowing fully it would lead to lamentation, woe and bad destinations.

I remember it was at the time I started writing things down on scraps of paper because of the hellish stabbing headaches I’d get when typing text on a digital device and the infernal twinkle of blasted light frequencies going off like a flash of lightning in an electric storm… a deep stab in the eye, exactly in the optic nerve. No warning. And that whole thing against a backdrop of a 24 hour managed ‘headache’ held together with a tight regime of powerful meds dealing with neuropathic pain.

So I went back to writing on ordinary paper with dull pencil. I had to learn to write properly after decades of scribbling reference numbers and OTP, one time passwords and that’s all. Then, as the non-digital me, keying it all in with plain black text on a white background, and up into WordPress formatting then hit Publish… but more about that some other time.

What I’m trying to write about here has to do with the arbitrary decision to take a particular action, regardless of the obvious danger that may result. It all went wrong when I found one of these scraps of paper and on it was written something like, say less than one sentence; a note to self.

“the standard walking pattern suggests another step between left and right… left foot (step) right foot.”

Like a magic formula, as soon as I read it I remembered, the image of the middle step. Walking was more like a bumpy three-legged rolling unicycle wheel. Reckless is not the word – wildly irresponsible, when you think of Bangkok traffic going at maximum speed just inches away from the pedestrian zone. We are all expected to take responsibility whether driving car, truck, motorbike or walking, and that’s just the way it works.

Somehow I bypassed these cautionary warning signs and set out to boldly go and try my balance all over the place, while learning how to best cope with this new middle leg I’d integrated. Then there were these spectacular falls in public places. Spectacular because I’d more or less worked out a recovery that included the same ‘middle step’. Note to self: This recovery was imaginary although nearly always there was a reasonable recovery. So it all seemed like a dance, no serious injury at all… then there was the ‘big one’ and that brought everything to a standstill.

For nearly a year I forgot completely about the middle step, and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to walk properly. It was that middle step that was causing balance problems and at the time I had no idea. The only safe place for me to walk was on the grass at public parks or airports where there is space all around. But I was bumping into people, besides it was not a ‘walk’ as we normally perceive ‘walking’. This was more like an imaginary Fred Astaire dance with the furniture than an attempt at walking. So someone suggested I get a wheelchair at airports and walk with a companion in ordinary environments.

Jiab says there is such a thing as occupational therapy where perhaps I can relearn those missing skills, so I will look into that. The biggest mystery is ‘the imaginary middle step’ and I’m referring to it now as something known, concrete, impossible. If I approach it obliquely I’m likely to wander off and fall in front of the traffic. Since finding that scrap of paper I notice anything to do with walking triggers the imaginary middle step.


15 thoughts on “the imaginary middle step

  1. Everything has its purpose. Doesn’t always make it easy easier or pain free though. My thoughts g with you. My birthday’s this Thursday. Let’s celebrate together and walk on arm in arm. ❤

    • Ben what a wonderful gift! Let’s walk arm on arm… it’s so good to know you are there and if you need somebody to lean on lean on me. I’ll be here on Thursday, speak with you then…

  2. Dear T, I always appreciate your writings, even as WordPress no longer allows me to “like” them, for quirky reasons of its own. The idea of that middle step fascinates me. What I get from it is that our aging is changing both our abilities and our perceptions. Puts me in mind of this from the Heart Sutra: “this body is emptiness and emptiness is this body, this body is not other than emptiness and emptiness is not other than this body. The same is true of feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness.” Check your email for a bit more on this from me. Wishing you a safe and pleasant day amidst beauty and love.

    • Every time I read something from the Heart Sutra I get totally blown away and nothing else is worth studying…
      Sorry to hear Word Press is interfering with your likes…

  3. I’ve heard about the middle way, and not the middle step. Thank you. It’s interesting to think about something well beyond our “usual” ways of doing the things we do. In fact, I’ve found some little shift in the usual to help keep me a bit more alert and awake. Well, a little anyway… So, maybe I’ll experiment with this.
    Oh, and belated happy birthday!

    • Thank you Vincent and apologies for such a late reply. It seem to take such an effort to do the simplest thing.
      It’s important to say I hadn’t intended there to be a connection between ‘the middle step’ and The Middle Way. Another thing is the presence of the ‘middle step’ could be quite dangerous. I wrote about it for some reason, perhaps ‘something well beyond our usual ways of doing the things we do’. Whatever, the dangerous aspect is the traffic in Bangkok, cement trucks at breakneck speed in the centre of town.
      Good to hear from you again Vincent, take care with that middle step…

    • Hi there mettatsunami
      That’s a deluge of loving kindness! No more returns to samsara or if there are, it’s obvious, it’s known what samsara is.
      It wasn’t my intention to say there is a connection with ‘the middle step’ and The Middle Way. I think that should be clear now.
      Thanks again for your boundless loving kindness, it gives me a boost

  4. Your imaginary middle step puts me in mind of my many steps, not that all of them are full steps but more like a dance, light and airy, yet I appear anything but stable without my walking stick or my concentration yet even with both…. So, I think I have some sense of your middle step, imaginary or no. Mine is from a damaged spinal cord, which does not regenerate, so the world whirls a bit more for me and on most days, I don’t mind at all. Best to you, dear T.

    • So good to hear from you KM and particularly because what you’re saying here is exactly what I meant. I mention this because some readers didn’t get it and turned it into something else. The fact is, it’s dangerous; dancing along the pavement with fast moving traffic. My fault I should have thought the idea through more carefully. Thanks again. Take care, KM

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