Water

I shall not be, I shall not be moved.
I shall not be, I shall not be moved;
Like a tree planted by the water,
I shall not be moved.

—Negro spiritual

Before the others, Dr. Russek. I must have asked her how it will end. From somewhere she produces a little pad and sketches something quickly, a practised gesture, upside down, on her knee, so I can see. A verticle line on the left, representing life, and a horizontal one across the bottom, representing time, and she scribbles in the graph thus formed a wavy curve, up and down, but tending downward, successive tops not so high as the ones before, bottoms reaching lower and lower. Until it finally gives up. There is no way to tell when that will be, Dr. Russek says, or what it will be like.

*

Dr. Yew looks at me over a big open binder, which she has been studying, opening and closing the rings and shifting papers from one place to another. She says she has something to say, but first is there anything I want to add. I can’t even think what I may have already said and shake my head. Dr. Yew says I am mistaken in supposing it has to do with breath. The issue is water. Not too much, not too little. Too much even worse than too little.

The meaning of Dr. Russek’s waves now made clear. Water. Not too much, not too little. The physiology of the soul is the physiology of plant life.

*

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

— Jeremiah 17:8

 

Naoko Matsubara, Solitude