Thursday, October 20, 2011

Being Nijinski

Time poverty is great. You don’t have time to think. You just have to run and throw yourself into 14 degree water, no toe dipping, no hand swishing. You just ride like the wind, find the spot, rest your bike up against the rocks, put your towel on the sand and in you go. I’ve never been like that before. But there I am, in. And the great thing is, because it’s October and because of the arctic temperature, nobody is around to hear you squeal like a girl and gasp embarrassingly. You don’t have to act elegant. You don’t have to worry that anyone’s watching you in your ridiculous bikini composed of an old bra and pair of tatty jocks. It’s too mad for anyone else to swim and that’s perfect. The beach is yours. Just a few buoys and a tanker passing in the distance. Perhaps a pilot boat. A black lighthouse to your left, a white lighthouse to the right. Some kelp around your thigh. It's excellent. I dive in again and it’s so cold my feet throb. I would never have done this before. My mother did it all the time and now I understand. There’s no time to waste.
And in the water your pelvis is new, no memory of the 9 pounder, you’re free, you’re Nijinski in the Rite of Spring, hopping, dancing spastically, warding off hypothermia, making weird sounds, just yourself: a complete and utter idiot. It’s fantastic. You’re a fish. You twirl your toes into the sand. You are Nijinski, you can feel him, feel what it might be like to be him, it feels magnificent - I wonder – is it more fun to be Nijinski alone in an impromptu bathing suit in the icy post-winter waters of Point Lonsdale or to actually be Nijinski. I often wonder that because sometimes when you get or become the thing you wanted it’s not as much fun as when you were imagining being it. I’m so glad I can imagine. It would really help in prison.
The swim was quick and good and I did it and wasn’t scared and felt all bold and got back on my bike and when I rode past the cemetery I really had a feeling of rubbing shoulders with mum. She would approve of the plunging in. I’m not sure what she’d think of the wild splashing and dancing though, she’d have been far more elegant. She would probably laugh about Nijinsky and say I was nuts. But one thing’s for sure, if I couldn’t imagine her and the things she might say and do I would certainly go insane.  

Leon Bakst 'Nijinski in the Afternoon of a Faun'

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