Monday, September 7, 2009

At Malady's Front Door


I felt a little droopy as I sat drinking my first morning cup of tea. Feeling only slightly under the weather, I was suspended in that poorly-defined state, located somewhere between true sickness and good health. The state wherein your movements slacken and your gestures more languid than usual. There truly is a deliciousness in this languor, this license to whittle down -if just for one or two days- your full schedule of activities to a mere handful. There were patients to see in the hospital and the weekly marketing to do, but aside from these, all other pursuits I made optional.

My tea was a chumushi (Rishi's Okumodori sencha), a medium-steamed sencha and a 1st flush from this year's spring harvest. Elsewhere, I have discussed its counterparts, the asamushi sencha (light-steamed) and the fukamushi sencha (deep-steamed). Acquired a week ago from my formidable farmer's market (where after ordering by phone only a day beforehand, I was able to pick up my tea purchases at the Rishi tea-stand -which stood conveniently next to a stall containing the plumpest tomatoes I have seen this year), the chumushi now complemented my sencha collection. It brewed up a wonderful light green liquor, that characteristic turbid-green of a sencha. This tea was truly a study in balance, umami in equipoise with a soft vegetal tang that really blossomed in the second infusion. I sipped and marvelled at the stray tea leaves which settled on the bottom of my cup. They were tiny shards of green, like broken stained-glass fragments in many shades of one color.

I lingered over the last few drops, not ready just yet for the day to start in earnest. I was still savoring a languor, where my mind calmed from the tea mirrored the lassitude of my limbs. I lifted the page of a magazine and felt myself more aware of the movements that this act entailed. The sequences of these movements -which are so commonplace and usually done without conscious thought- become marvelously complex when broken down into their components. I find that I can hardly describe them individually without invoking an anatomist's obsessive attention to the workings of the human body. But I really have no interest in the sterile deconstruction of my act of flipping a page of the New Yorker. Just the thought of relearning all those muscles and nerves of the arm and their functions (which I once memorized in medical school under duress) is enough to elicit from me a very audible groan.

I am interested, however, in appreciating the random slices of life, those prosaic flutterings of an ordinary day. I share a miniaturist's delight in a gentle flicker of a cat's tail, a cupped hand around a warm mug of steaming tea.





1 comment:

Jason Witt said...

I have moments like this too. A new perception on reality is quite welcome in times of sickness, as many artists all throughout history can attest. And it's always wonderful to be caught with awe at the workings of the human body. That's what goes so well with the health blessings of tea, after all. --Spirituality of Tea