Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Like Water

My friend and publisher Craig Smith asked of me a task.

This is not a strange task, given I am studying massage and working in the medical field. It was not an unreasonable request, given the same. That it came over a Fuller's ESB (Extra Special Bitter) at a local pub was a bit out of the ordinary but if I discounted that which came at uncommon moments and from non-ordinary directions, my life would be rather empty.

He asked me to work on his mom.

Without going into detail, his mom is old. Yes, that is rather a meaningless word. Old means something different at ten than it does at twenty. Vastly different at thirty than it does at fifty. I am forty-three and I consider her old. This is fully because she acts old. I have, in fact, no idea how many years she has been walking the Earth. I do know, however many years that is, discounting her infancy and the last few years, that number of would be minus a bit over three. She rarely ventures from bed and, then, with great difficulty.

He wants me to do massage for her. Her lower back is stiff and painful straight across. She has little flexibility and movement. Far too much time immobile has left her atrophied and less likely to become mobile each day.

She can’t get onto a massage table. A massage chair would be a difficulty. I suggested I was not the person for the job. Perhaps someone experienced in geriatric massage?

A few days later I asked a therapist who teaches at a local massage school. Ron is familiar with my work: I have given him massages in the past and we have had discussion on method, practice and philosophy.

I asked him about working on Craig’s mom. I suggested a few salient suggestions regarding technique or set-up. He did not disappoint me.

He suggested bringing in a straight-back chair and having her sit on that, the wrong way, with a pillow in front of her. Good idea. That would allow me to get to what I needed and still leave her feeling secure. It would be more familiar than a massage chair and easier to get into.

I went on to say I said I didn't think I was the right person for the job.

I was quite surprised at the answer. He countered me with what, to me, is a compliment.

"You are exactly the person for the job. You are gentle and the energy flows through you. You are perfect for it. You’re probably just what she needs."

Really? Gentle?

My touch is rather deep, but broad. It is slow and, I suppose, I can see that, though not light, being sensed as gentle.

But energy?

I said I never felt the energy flow and then, it occurred to me, what an idiotic thing that was to say. One only feels what one resists. A wire only notices the energy when there is resistance. A hose only notices the water when there is a block.

After all, if you notice your eye seeing, there is a problem. If you notice your breathing all the time, feel the air in and out, there is a problem. If you can feel your heart stomping in your chest, see a doctor. When things work right, they are invisible. When the country is run well, the emperor is never seen. So the Tao teaches us. So nature shows us. That which works as it should is not noticed, has no resistance. That which resists is worn.

I think that is why I never trusted the energy workers who shook and quaked and moaned when working. And I never figured the more hot the hands of a worker the better the work. In a way, that heat is a sign of resistance just like a cord with too much power for the gauge. It’s a sign of resistance.

So, I resisted the compliment, of course. But I was countered again, later, by another. Jennifer, my friend of marvelous intuitive power, trusted fully, implicitly and wholly, tells me the truth without hesitation or reservation. When she speaks, I believe. Jennifer agreed instantly. Agreed as though I should have known this all along.

So, I guess I'm the guy.

And why am I always the last to know? I guess I just never notice.