Sunday, July 05, 2009

No Resistance, No Bite

When I noticed a mosquito on my leg where I sat reading in my garden, I leaned to blow it off. When it didn't blow off, I knew it had already attached itself. I suppressed the reflex to brush it away with my hand, and returned to my New Yorker. "You'll die for this," I thought. But that's only with bees, isn't it? That after they sting, their hours are numbered. Well anyway, it was clear the damage was already done, its proboscis inserted and drinking. And so I thought it a good time to test the theory.

I understand that the itch of mosquito bites is a consequence of interrupting them mid-suck. If left to finish their work and depart in their own timing, the swelling and itchy skin can be avoided. I do think I've tested this before with dubious results; but here was a golden opportunity to test it again, or once and for all.

I hadn't felt it land, nor did I detect its presence on my skin, or its probe into my vein, and this was its own curiosity. How long would it drink? That was my other curiosity, so I glanced back after a time--only to see it visibly swelling with its red drink, my life blood. That was all the incentive I needed not to look again!

In due time, it lifted off, sated and heavy, leaving no trace of itself behind. Experiment complete. Presently, I would have my results. I would know conclusively if the theory proved true.

My skin remained tranquil, unblemished just after the "bite," and even now, one day hence, there is no trace of it on my flesh. But to say the "little fly" left no impression whatsoever would be false. While it had been drinking, I mused on the theory I was testing: no resistance, no bite. How true this is in other realms too, I thought. I am bitten or stung or at the very least aggravated by countless circumstances in life. I decide "This [fill in the blank] shouldn't be," and thereby interrupt the flow rather than let a thing complete itself and pass. Which it does, always. We know this. One doesn't need very much time on this earth to see, to realize that everything is passing, that change is our only constant here.

I tell my writing students, "If you're suffering, you're breaking one of the Rules." By "Rules," I mean the 9 rules of writing practice that are, in sum, the key to abandoning resistance, the secret formula for letting our thoughts (stories, essays, poems) flow through our pens and onto the page without interference. Stay with that practice long enough and one can't help but live this way off the page as well.

Where there is no resistance, there is freedom, flow: this I know. Why we insist on obstructing it--routinely, it would seem--I don't know exactly. But we do. And when we do, we pay the consequences, simple as that. The skin swells, the scratching begins, and by our scratching, we disperse the poison more widely and recovery takes that much longer.

My skin is completely clear where that mosquito rested for a time. It came, it drank, it left, and left no trace on my flesh. All I had to do to accomplish this was...nothing! How do you like that?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It came, it drank, it left, and left no trace on my flesh." Tch. How about if it had been carrying a disease?

10:05 AM  
Blogger Kathryn Deputat said...

Yes, always a possibility of course. If it had been carrying a disease, and I'd killed it or brushed it away, then I'd be infected AND itching vs. only infected (given it was already 'attached' and the "damage," if any, had already been done!).

Thanks for reading, and for your response.

12:39 PM  

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