While the rest of the class performs sun salutations in synchronized bows, Caleb stands breathless on his mat. Something in him has come loose. He looks ahead, to the sea of butts in sweatpants around him, and tries not to stare.
“Remember that you control your own comfort. Remember the sources of that comfort.”
Everyone is focused inward, on their respective inner children, who have been scolded since adolescence to stand rigid and tall. Like everyone else, Caleb is here to undo that damage, and as he turns his attention inward and touches his toes, he remembers his thumb.
Until he was thirteen, his left thumb lived in his mouth. Not when anyone else could see, of course — he had some survival instinct — but every moment alone, he had kept it there, until the pacification it provided was finally outdone by the shame. He tied his arm to the bedpost one desperate night, and from then on formed nuanced opinions on social issues.
He returns to a standing position. This is a judgement free zone. As he returns his prodigal digit to its rightful home, he feels the erasure of two decades. Perhaps this position completes a circuit within him, a mudra. He bows again with elbow tucked in, and he is stretchier, more fluid, more of a human being. Maturity is pretense, he realizes, something we have to prove to each other. We live between quotation marks.
The class has turned their attention to him, and they applaud his breakthrough. He continues to perform his asymmetric gestures to the heavens, up and down, long after the class has stopped. He is a fever. Even when he falls forward onto his jaw with the full force of his body, he swallows, satisfied. He will always be complete now.