The balneologist doesn’t fill the tub too full, in case he falls asleep.
Someone is dictating things to the balneologist.
And we create, sometimes in hopes of praise,
Sometimes as an act of love,
The way a mermaid sings
Or a child plucks an insect’s wings.
An old red cat sits on the balneologist’s lap and purrs and purrs. The balneologist taught the cat to eat when it was little, and that made the balneologist the cat’s hero. The cat is crazy about the balneologist.
When people tell the balneologist he is more exceptional than he gives himself credit for, he thinks, maybe. Maybe Dunning-Kruger is to blame. But what, exactly, is he supposed to be so good at?
He can’t remember.
The balneologist floats there in the tub, soaking, not drowning. When the water gets cold, turn the hot tap back on with your toes for a while.
So what is up with this hollowness at the center of our complex existence, balneologist? As if our lives were bells, except bells are neither complex nor hollow, they are open and this complexity doesn’t make music that the balneologist can hear.
More like as if life were cheap Easter chocolates.
It’s hard to sit there and be negative when a red cat worships you, or a kid puts her head on your shoulder while you’re watching TV, or calls you just to check on you.
The dictating voice says,
You are blessed as are we all. Come down out of your crazy tree of grief and accept your blessing of mortality and life, if only to watch the world go by and report on the craziness, or just to watch, or listen to the sounds. Come down out of your crazy tree and hold my hand or water all your pots of herbs and hold close your children while they grow, they need your warmth and the heroic reflection in your eyes. Come down and have a bite to eat and drink a glass of wine and sleep and dream. This is your lot, humanity, and no blessing is greater than for a human to be human, it is the only blessing. Come down out of your tree and forgive yourself, forget your aspirations and have a look around.
To be blessed, to be blessed, the balneologist thinks.
Come down out of your crazy tree and sit by me and hold my hand, I am just as scared as you.