The puzzling adage in the title above is often given to addicts in recovery programs and to beginning clients in psychotherapy. In lapidary it suggests the process of grinding the matrix to reveal the semiprecious jewel within. It also applies to the subjects of these photos and to the true story I'm about to share.
Before heading to the airport to return to Denver this morning my good friend Nancy strolled my rose garden once more to cement the memory and to pick a fresh bouquet for my kitchen table. The sun was beginning to dispel the drippy fog. It was then Nancy noticed the illumination of the dew on the spiderwebs among the hydrangeas in my shade garden. I quickly snapped the photos above of both subjects before my summer pollen allergies did me in. During this particular visit Nancy and I ate, played, ate, saw the movie The Help, ate, and took the ferry to Pier 39 like any good tourist should. Nancy also shared emails she was receiving from her good friend Maddie who was discovering the wonders of Bali. Maddie's experience with a Balinese massage evoked the following memory for me.
It was my first trip to Indonesia. I suppose I was in my early seventies. My body has kind of ached with arthritis ever since I was in my late thirties so I am no stranger to massage. I find it soothing and healing. Others treat themselves to cruises, fine clothes, big houses, and expensive cars. We all have different value systems. A good thing. Much of my working life I drove an old VW bug yet got a massage at least twice a month. I thought I had tried them all: Swedish, aromatherapy, deep tissue, shiatzu, Thai, reflexology, etc. but though I had heard of hot stone, I had not yet experienced it. So one day while in Ubud, most of our group of watercolorists scheduled a massage at a lovely spa down the street from our boutique hotel. In the garden veranda of the spa we were invited to express our choice of kind of massage from a long list of options. I was the only one to request hot stone. My friends were escorted, one by one, to various garden rooms by pretty young women in saris. So I was startled when a little man, maybe 30, no taller than my armpits, speaking no English, gestured for me to follow him. Down, down, down we went, terrace upon terrace until we came to a secluded room. More like a giant parlor than a massage room. Glass walls opened to an Eden-like sunken garden. In the middle stood an oven, a single chair, and a massage table. An adjoining room contained a large scented soaking pool filled with lotus blossoms. With graceful arm movements the young man gestured for me to remove all my clothing. Then he tiptoed out. Folded neatly on the chair was a thin, soft cream colored towel, about 11 x 18, roughly the size of a hand towel. I disrobed silently before grabbing the towel. Carefully I attempted to arrange it so that it covered my breasts and my crotch. No amount of stretching, squeezing, squirming or churning achieved the goal. Finally I thought that if I took no deep breaths I could balance the towel so that it covered both tits and my pubic hair (ahem, I had a little more then.) This was nothing like I had ever experienced, as usually a large sheet or blanket is provided. I struggled with doubt and anxiety. "Lay calmly," I chided myself. But each time I dared take a breath the towel would shift left, right, up or down so that an intimate part of me waved in the air. I tried to meditate, palms plastered to my hips, but I was shaking inwardly. Suddenly the little man appeared. With one graceful whisk of his wrist the towel was back on chair and hot stones were being massaged deeply into my diaphragm. I hope my gasp was silent. In the next hour and a half the same treatment was applied to almost every exposed inch of my epidermis. Totally skilled, totally professional. It was wondrous and scary at the same time. Finally the treatment was over. The masseuse gestured to the pool. I nodded. The water was fragrant and soothing, but my nerves were jangling. After five minutes I dove for my clothes. He seemed very dismayed at the brevity of my immersion, as if he'd somehow prepared the water incorrectly. There was no way I could explain my behavior in sign language. I tipped him and high tailed it home. Since then I guess I've had two or three more hot stone massages at my gym. All good, but none to equal the first one, either in technique or shock value.
Yesterday I got the results of x-rays taken Tuesday of my right knee which has been acting very cranky for two weeks. I'm tired of wraps, ice packs, ibuprofins and the crimp in my style. Good news: no fractures. Bad news: there may be a tear in the miniscus right where it attaches to the fibula. If the pain persists I'll have to get an MRI to see what is really happening. I'm not sure I want to know. However, like the spider webs, rosebuds, and stone massage, more shall be revealed.