September 9, 2011
After typing my first sentence today:
“I dust off my Ben Wa balls, don my 1980s RoadRunner gloves and head down
the boulevard for my morning run,”
I thought that I should go on-line to see if I had spelt the name of my cloisonné-coated jingly things correctly. I was horrified, for several reasons, when I started seeing references like “pelvic floor strengthening” and other not-so-G-rated descriptions of uses for these pretty things. Evidently, the correct term for the gift I was given many years ago by an old family friend—a dude—to help with hand and finger flexibility is “baoding balls,” and now I need to find out how to pronounce that! Be right back.
Okay, so it sounds like “Bow (like wow) Ding” balls. Now I’m just laughing out loud. If “the gift” had been of the other type, I would not have been holding them during my run—in my hands.
So why do I decide to run with these digital dexterity tools? According to the authors of Keep Your Brain Alive (Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D. & Manning Rubin), purposefully mixing unexpected textures, sounds, smells, and tastes to daily routines can fire up all kinds of activity in your brain, and who doesn’t want an active brain?
I drop one almost immediately as I maneuver the two in my right hand—while running on the tarred road. It jingles as it crashes and rolls. I panic for a moment, chastising myself for being so clumsy with a valuable treasure. Perhaps it’s okay? But no, a large chunk of the lovely enamel is cracked off, revealing the inner metal casing. A metaphor, I think.
I catch up to the damaged ball, lift it and continue my downhill run, suddenly smiling as I recognize in myself my son Jake’s innate curiosity about the tensile strength of things. Earlier, I had been nervous about the durability of these artistic creations, which is probably why they had remained in their padded box for years. Now I knew the answer, and felt relieved. I could do an easy repair at home with some nail polish.
On the dirt road (if I had dropped it here I would not have made a discovery!) I rotate the balls clockwise then counterclockwise, right hand then left, I hold one in each hand and try to keep them silent while I run, I squeeze them, I balance them, and I even consider running with one in my mouth—but fear how the headlines of my death would read the next day.
The time passes quickly, and I’m surprised when I reach my designated turn-around point. It’s all uphill back to the house, and I need to pee. A quick look-around confirms that I’m all alone, and the ditch by the side of the road is convenient. I toss the balls in my hood, drop my drawers, and take care of business quickly . . . but then I linger . . . the crisp air, the warm sun, the sense of accomplishment . . .
so I linger longer as I determine that every derriere deserves more than a moment in the sun.
By the time I get home, I decide that I will not repair the damaged ball. The irregular texture will add an element of complexity to the balls which will make my brain work harder when I use them. Besides, the exposed metal looks like the shape of a butt.
Balls. What a funny word.
1. Shake things up.
2. Remember that all material things are transient.
3. Enjoy a bit of sunshine when and where you can!