an ache, or an anchor, or a fire

It goes backwards like this:
He is getting his nails painted by his daughter, who's trying to get the faces of the adventuretime characters on his first fingers, and one of them is turning into a new kind of design.  This is practice.  After waiting too long and starting to see dreams climb out of his head onto the couch, she tells him he can relax his hands.
It's unusual because when they relax, they start to hurt.  He's remembering that he goes to sleep with his fists clenched, and they stay like that for most of the day.  Holding a motorcycle steady and moving things from one end of a city to another mean tight hands.  His belly is also starting to get tight again.
This isn't a bad thing.  In fact, it's important that some of these things stay tight.  When he was alone for a moment after being surrounded by people for a few months, he was aware that the softness in the belly was holding hidden sobs, that they were getting covered up with trying so hard to be easy for too long, and he is not easy, and is not born to be easy in that way.
When he is easy, he has given in, and that means something important has been lost.
His closest allies in the spirit world felt the stomach start to tighten, and asked him not to let himself give in like that again.
He is upset because he thinks it shouldn't have to be this hard.  That there are others, plenty of others around him, who seem easy with the world, who tell him that this is what getting old means, that it's a sign of peace of mind.  He has doubts that this is what it really means, because he has peace of mind, but it's always a little bit tricky, because most people take that as a sign that there is nothing left to do, and nothing left to want.
He remembers making a decision that he would not want so much, and he would just see how things would go, and they started to fall in their own direction, under their own weight, and he woke up one morning caught in spider webs, and it felt a little bit like dying.
This is not the season, not here, not yet, for clearing things away so that new things could start to grow, but whatever he is caught in, it doesn't pay attention to seasons.
By taking a few small actions, things became much much harder again, and the sea monsters started to come back to life, and he felt something that was very much like forward momentum, and everything was right for casting spells.
Spells only work when there is motion already, they need things in place before they can enter into the picture and start to dance with the heads of the living.  This all seems somehow connected to the forward momentum in the life of his daughter.
There's an uncle, his favorite, who is falling ill, and things are looking a little dark.  These old bodies are here, and his daughter's body is on this side of the wheel, going up, and he's somewhere in the middle, too old to be young, but way too young to be old.  It's hard to understand how things are supposed to be, and harder to recognize them when they are obvious.
So when he finds himself running out of gas on the freeway after getting tested at a clinic for an infection he doesn't feel related to, it makes sense.  He is supposed to fill these things with fuel, the things he wants to continue, and right now it's all very very easy to know which things to continue, because they're obvious.  The work is hard, but it's always been that way.  He doesn't get to escape that.  Not even the most adept wizards get to avoid work, they learn to love it, because that's when the sweat starts to mix with the secret ingredients that make these small moments, these minor decisions, things of magic and beauty.  

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