Nurturing Flesh

This post is a small part of a work in progress and will soon have links and citations to relevant supporting information.


While I am a massage therapist by trade, first and foremost, I am an artist. My mind seeks correlations in an attempt to process what is going on around, but, more importantly, inside me. They are inexorably linked.


As I biked to work last Wednesday, I already to noticed changes: at 7:30 AM, the 606 was full of families biking and walking together, looking more like a lazy Saturday morning than an early weekday morning rush hour. I saw people discovering what unschooling families have known all along: small humans do just fine (if IMO even better) with a slow rhythm to a shared day, complete with downtime, where not every minute is scheduled and full of stimuli. I started seeing posts on social media about meals cooked lovingly at home and shared with loved ones. This is how we are meant to take in our nutrition. I see people baking bread, making yogurt, sprouting greens in their kitchens. All activities done easily from home, pandemic optional. We have always had the time. We just believed the Kool-Aid and hopped on the hamsterwheel of an economy and lifestyle that benefits only a few while hurting many. We let our priorities get skewed.


This condition currently threatening us attacks the lungs. In Chinese medicinal theory, every organ has its function in maintaining the complex whole that is the living organism. Each organ also has, associated with it, a season, an element, and emotion. The season associated with lungs is autumn and its corresponding emotion is grief. As summer’s heat and bustling activities dwindle, the days shorten, and temperatures drop. The leaves yellow, shrivel, die and fall off the trees. Summer’s fruits, long sunshine, and busy-ness, give way to shorter days, cooler temperatures and ideally, a turning inward, as we let go of external business and attend to the interior Ideally. typically, this is NOT what we do in our culture, and so here we are.

Those dead leaves on the ground are necessary fodder for next spring’s growth. Without that death, there is no rebirth. That letting go is what keeps the soil fertile, useful, productive. Those things that change and die offer food for growth. But only when we receive what's useful, then let them go. When we repress or distract ourselves from examining and learning from our feelings, we miss their useful purpose. In Chinese medicine theory, the lungs are associated with grief. Grief, in and of itself is not “bad” as emotions are neither good or bad; they serve to communicate to us and lead us to right action. By right I mean appropriate for the situation. We have allowed so many practices that cause us deep grief on so many levels. And we insist on perpetuating them. We tell ourselves “it is what it is” as we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and plug away at crushing our hustles, and then we force our children into these ridiculous paradigms as well, as early as we possibly can, thus shaping our planet’s future. Scary huh? We’ve normalized a mean indifference for the sake of greed. But what is at the root of greed? Fear. Fear of not having enough, not knowing that we, with our infinite capacity for self-actualization, creativity, resilience, and love are enough. At heart’s level, we know this is wrong. But we continue, anyway, telling ourselves it is what it is.


But is it?


In the past days, I’ve seen restaurant owners devise creative ways to generate income for their staff despite closures. I’ve seen folks find ways to offer gig workers and the self-employed both food and meals. The crushing cost of living in this country is being altered: payments are being deferred for a time or lessened. Yes, our economy is being impacted irreparably, but we’d let it become a toxic relationship that hurts way too many and benefits only a select few. If I’m reading the news correctly, I am seeing creative approaches to meeting healthcare needs that, quite frankly, have been available to us all along.


We have the chance now to slow down, see and prioritize what really matters.


Are we gonna rise to the challenge?


I'd be lying if I said there was no sense of caution aroused in me right now. But fear? No. A part of me is truly relishing this time at home, I mean this is an introvert artist's dream come true. (To be clear, that staying home part, NOT the people dying or under-equipped senior centers and hospitals. )I’m doing all the things I “never have time” to do because I am always running off to the next thing. My cats are thrilled that I now play with them instead of throwing plops of cat food onto their plates as I blaze through on my way to the next appointment, or push them away when they come to me looking for affection, yet another drain on my already taxed reserves. To date, I’ve gone to sleep early and wake up easily at dawn. I stretch thoroughly, juggle balls, clubs, boxes, bottles. I walk on bottles. Or try, anyway. I'm finally practicing martial arts regularly instead of running higgledy piggledy everywhere only to get myself nowhere. I finally sat down to draw the images that my soul’s been whispering since last spring. I’m practicing my knife throwing daily... much to my neighbor’s concerned stares. (Hey Babe, don't worry about your fence!) And I learned how to run my kiln and throw clay on the wheel.


I'm truly interested in the activities, experiences, and discoveries people are having. Please share what you're up to, or simply reach out if you need real human presence. My email is ms.jpvargas@gmail.com .



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