Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Nude Jog

On the night before setting out on my Gozo and Malta walking holiday, I dreamt I was running in the nude on the circuit of roads that encircles Glasnevin Cemetery and the National Botanic Gardens. I see a woman being knocked down by a car, and can't go to her assistance because of my naked state. Two pedestrians, however, do go to help her. Then I approach two policemen and am anxious that they won't have the wit to distinguish between an innocent naked jogger and a flasher. I pass by them without incident. In time I arrive home. My car is sitting in the driveway. Just to check that it is locked, I tug at the boot-handle. The boot-door opens and I see my shopping bags inside, with a note pinned on saying "You have missed the boat." At the same time I feel a stretch-pain in the palms of my hand.

The main purpose of this dream, I would say, is to set the biological alarm. We all have an internal clock which keeps precise time and can be called into active service. My airplane was quite early in the morning, so I had set my iPhone alarm and placed it by my bed. When I woke in the morning, I looked at the phone and discovered that my biological alarm had woken me up with five minutes to spare over my phone alarm.

As to naked jogging, this is not the first time the theme occurred in my dreams. Jogging in the nude would, of course, be a very pleasant experience, if it were not for the social taboo, and the dreams are replete with the embarrassment of meeting a disapproving audience. I recall the childhood days when I could jog in the nude without embarrassment. In those wonderful years between the age of eight and twelve, our family never missed a summer holiday in Lusmagh, beside the Shannon. The callows, fields beside the river, were flooded in winter. To help them dry out in Spring and Summer, the farmers had dug drains. My brothers and I, with our country friend, Johnny Searson, would often, on a sunny day, strip off for a swim (or, more truthfully, a splash around) in the drains (safer than the river, with its uncertain depth and currents). Then, to dry off, we would run naked around the meadow, and what a glorious feeling that was, with the air caressing my naked flesh! Years afterwards, I heard that the young girls of the village would often (or sometimes) congregate on the road overlooking the callows and have a good laugh at us careering around. We never heard a noise from them, because the acoustics of the place would carry our noises up over the fields, but not carry the road noises down.

Naked joggers were not the only entertaining spirits to be seen in the callows from  the road above. Fairies were often seen at night, with their lanterns lighting! Science now tells us that these were not fairy lanterns at all, but methane, rising up from the drains, spontaneously combusting!

The stretch-pains in my hands was another reminder from the sub-conscious. Thirty years ago, I noticed a thickening or lump in the palm of my hand and showed it to my doctor. He said it was the beginning of Dupuytren's Contracture, that it would develop until, eventually, I would not be able to extend my little finger and ring finger, and perhaps other fingers, and might need surgery to relieve the symptoms. Since then, I have frequently engaged the Prayer Pose in order to counteract the tendency for the condition to develop. We all learned the prayer pose as little children when we started school, but it was as part of religious practice rather than as a very useful exercise for our physical health. I also took to massaging the tendons in the palms of my hand to counteract their tendency to cluster and contract. My preconscious was now reminding not to neglect this exercise, even if it is becoming a little painful, but also, to think a bit about it. Since part of the disease is a tendency for the fingers to become tied together, I have now decided to add an additional routine to the exercise: hold three fingers while the remaining finger is stretched, bent and extended on its own. I notice that each finger activates a different sinew all the way up the arm to the elbow and beyond. If you don't use it, you will lose it, and typing on the keyboard, or playing the tin whistle, is not sufficient to maintain each finger's elasticity. Prayer Pose and separate exercise of each finger are both important.

Dupuytren's Contracture is very common in Irish people, and I see many men, and some women, as young as forty, who are not able to fully extend some or all of their fingers.

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