There’s a mirror over the old fireplace in my office. Setting a fire in that fireplace would probably ruin my day, because I don’t think the chimney actually works. I’d smoke myself out of house and home, or worse. But the mirror over the mantle is nice — I can look at myself while I’m pondering the big questions of the day (“button-down? Or polo shirt? Tie? No tie?”).
There’s one exercise during Eight Pieces of Silk, which I did after the form and five golden coins, where the arms are circling from left to right, and then the hands are rising and sinking from the head, and then the arms circle from right to left. It’s very repetitive, and there are more than a few snap-crackle-pops as the rice-krispies exit my joints and keep my early morning routine a little noisy (though they’re loud enough to me, it’s unlikely that anyone else hears them…. when your joints crack or snap or pop, do the people around you notice?)
This morning I was looking in the mirror, doing this exercise, when a thought popped into my head… wait, am I looking at flab? Or am I looking at my tricep? And my brain actually sort-of responded through the early morning fog, “what, you mean, that thing hanging from the underside of your arm? That’s flab. It’s always been flab, it’ll always be flab… hang on a minute, what’s this?”
And the flab twitched. So I tensed my triceps. And the flab sort-of tightened up into a tricep. In both arms. So there was this very nice, hard, solid, curving bicep on top, and an equally-nice looking triceps underneath my arms. My arms. Attached to that face, that was me, in the mirror.
I relaxed my arms. The flab came back. I tensed my arms. The triceps returned.