Loss and Viruses, A Train-ride to DC, Sisterhood

Glassworks

On the train to DC to visit Bek, a man came from a few rows up and across the aisle to tap my shoulder and hold up a screen that read, “Will you help me?” He is deaf and needed to call his case-worker, Mrs. Allen, to let her know that he is on the train. I called her and she told me that it was okay for him to go back to his apartment. I typed her reply and as I got up to return to my seat he leaned in and told me, “I just lost my family in an explosion.”  Read More

Canvas

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Forgetting Your Own Lessons, pen on travel-journal paper

After the quake in Shanghai she started spending most days at the art museum, in intimate positions with its subjects, and the patrons, their wide eyes blinking RAPE/RAPE and somewhere beyond the cornea, mind dilations: “The need to behold!”… True art.  But these easy lids didn’t feel the earth shake.  (Did it really happen?)  She learned not only to shout when the painting squeezed her heart tight Read More

Kneeling Needling: Acupuncture for Humanity

“Uh-oh.”

“We all need to get back down on our knees,” preacher Raleigh implores the congregation as a chorus of ‘Amens’ arises from the dutiful.  He had been illustrating the self-induced problems that we as a collective body, as a nation, and as individuals had made since getting up off our knees in a fever of adolescent obstinacy.  In delirium we decided that we could follow the sweet things of the world, the pretty and shiny and comfortable words and feelings; no need for humility because we knew all the answers.  They tickled our taste buds and had us coming back for more.

“Why?”

Upon realizing the error of our ways, why then do we incessantly lament over our reckless faux pas and, instead of applying our learning, perpetuate the grand gaucherie? Like a dog chasing his own tail: amusing at first and maddening thereafter.  Breaking free of these enigmatic questions by neglecting them, we ascend into the roots of our ways.  (‘Ascending’ into ‘roots’ may be a difficult conceptual image, but as we can learn from countless survival stories in real-life and in literature, the only honest way ‘up and out’ is to ‘go down and through’.)  But instead of being our roots, we remove ourselves from them and consciously view them from a new vantage point.  We become artists and mechanics working on a masterpiece and are able to see clearly what color and/or part we need to complete the piece.

“Huh?”

A common diagnosis in our society today, according to Chinese medicine is liver qi stagnation, or simply ‘being stuck in our ways.’  For instance, superstitions are fun for games, but when we begin to put all our faith into them – time-out.  Enough of the funny business. Superstitious beliefs, as drying cement, solidify when we forget that our models are only prototypes: symbols, mnemonic devices, templates to help us build a sound structure upon which to begin living.  But how exhausting it is to live by rigidity in a clearly dynamic world!  Would it even be living?  Even if the model intended to teach flow and balance, as most valid idol-ic images do—think food pyramid, a statue of a Buddha, or the Wu Xing diagram—they in themselves are obdurate and static.  Yet, the moment we realize we are taking the whole cosmology or system too seriously is one to rejoice indeed!  We can laugh out loud as we picture ourselves trying to authentically live our lives through the prism of a rigid model-idol.  We are free to be human again.  Our health is ready to be restored.

“Ha!”

Body positioning, or geomancy, plays an important factor in acupuncture as it does in Chinese philosophy, and as in Chinese philosophy, as it does in the universe.  How we position our bodies, whether consciously, not, or a little of both, communicates a great deal to our surrounding world.  As Raleigh made aware, kneeling is a way for us to offer sincere apologies and admit our lowliness.  In acupuncture, by lying prostrate and face-down we may acknowledge our weaknesses and communicate to the world that we are at that moment unable to be receptive to challenging stimuli.  It is a way to give our blood a rest.  During cupping, a face-down patient communicated that she was surrendering herself to the caring hands of an artist.  By lying face-up we similarly give our bodies the needed rest to realign, but we are also open to changes.  In this way the effects of acupuncture can be immediate.  A patient recently came into our clinic somber and in pain.  By the time I pulled his needles he was refilled with joyous stories: “When I was a grandkid we’d just sit around and talk with them [grandparents], but now they expect you to actually do stuff with them [grandkids].  I got my five-year old granddaughter saying to me on the seabed [family-room floor], ‘Mermaid-boy, you’re not flipping!’”

Aah.

Positioning ourselves with respect to our world is essentially how healing by acupuncture works.  Though we activate one pressure point, its effects are begotten elsewhere.  Similarly, in writing this I did not work from an outline or even delineate a definite end result, but began by simply getting on my knees and picking up a pen.  By my being activated, the healing flowed by some meridian to the organ—the body—that needed it.

© 2012, Amaya Engleking

Brocade

Broken brocade;

Where do I put this sequin when the sequence

Falls like notes from the cellar door?

On my knees searching on the dirty waxed floor

Hands graze gypsy mambo scuff-marks

And dirty martini olive-swords.

Candles glow in distant red bulbs,

My search waxes dim.

How does poetry save the world like God? Read More

Temptations, Beans, and Molasses

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I am perplexed by how much my fellow people are letting the culture of our times pervade their thoughts and ways of life.  Currently it is much in vogue to accept people for “who they are,” manifested (certainly in Colorado, where I live) as making marijuana legal and highly visible; to market the mass consumption of commercial drones; to let people choose to end their own lives by doctor-allocated poison, as long as two physicians sign off that they are indeed helpless cases.  We are creating a culture of acquiescing to base desires because we have been traumatized by the fear of the other side that wants to destroy all personal freedom.  But is it wise to fashion a world based on antithesis to what we hate or do not want, akin to a wild teenager doing that which his parents told him not to do for the sole reason of defying authority?  I’m afraid that will not lead us to a more balanced spiritual existence — and thus a happier one — but will just give us loads of self-diagnosed “good people.” Read More