Underneath the Juniper Tree


“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”  ~  Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

“One of the poets, whose name I cannot recall, has a passage, which I am unable at the moment to remember, in one of his works, which for the time being has slipped my mind, which hits off admirably this age-old situation.”  ~  P. G. Wodehouse

Yesterday was neither good nor bad. I could disassemble it through analysis, but let’s don’t. But it was a difficult day, so much so that around the midpoint, as I sat in mindfulness, under the protection of a juniper tree, I had a hard time letting it go, this difficulty multiplied, because by that time of day I hadn’t a clue as to what “letting it go” might look like. But it was quiet out there and that was all I really needed by that point. My memories had gone quiet as well. The traffic in town had been no match for the racket my memories were making. The place was out along the West Rim Trail, along the Rio Grande Gorge, out from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, maybe two miles, maybe more. An hour of hiking had sufficiently disarmed my sense of time. An encounter with three Bighorn rams had eased me back down into my animal self. The juniper tree was big enough for me to sit underneath its boughs, shaded from the sun, protected from whatever bad spirits I had been entertaining earlier in the day.

I had a physical therapy session at 7:30 AM yesterday, to address the periodic deep pain I get between my shoulder blades. I put my ten minutes in on the treadmill then went on to some other exercises under the guidance of the quite pretty therapist, who also owns and operates the clinic. The second set of exercises she wanted me to perform had to do with strengthening the shoulder sockets. She asked me to move each arm in turn, in a circular pattern. I started with the right arm and everything went well. The left arm not so well. That arm locked up tight at one point, damaged shoulder and all; too many bicycle crashes. That ended the intended exercise. She led me across the room to do an different exercise, which consisted of me on my belly, chin tucked back into my neck, with arms stretched back, and I proceeded to sort of bow my spine repetitively. After many repetitions I began to tire, and then came a truly startling wave of emotions. It was PTSD kicking in, full glory, putting me in touch with some muscle-stored memories of the time I crashed my bike and seriously tore up my face in the process. I told the therapist about it after I was through with the exercise, and she entered the data into her laptop. She told me, two weeks back, that some of us, who have PTSD related to the injuries we face in therapy, get these emotional flashbacks that interfere with the exercises. I finished that session with a truly lovely hot neck wrap that nearly facilitated a trance journey for me. When I realized that I was fixin’ to go all shamanic and stuff I opened my eyes and kept them open for the duration of the restful neck wrap thingy. I didn’t want to leave the room without taking my body with. When I did finally leave the building I had to stand still and survey the world to get my bearings: mountain, cloud, automobile, tree, jogger with their head in some digital place. Stuff like that. The real world. For whatever reason I knew that instead of going home I had to go out to the West Rim Trail and drink in the primal beauty out there. That’s how I ended up under the juniper tree. Those memories of that accident, made only more poignant by the fact that my NDE had occurred as a result of the crash  .  . .  well, memories aren’t reliable, are they?

I’ve got to go back for another session this morning. I don’t know. I just feel drained having been dragged through the emotions that my muscles have stored for these many years. I’ll need a nap afterwards.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.

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