CRPS, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Type 1), is a change in the nervous system that's usually triggered by a very painful episode. The bad kinds affect the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, metabolism, circulation, and fight-or-flight response. Lucky me; that's what I've got. ... But life is still inherently good (or I don't know when to quit; either way) and, good or not, life still goes on.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Releasing the gods within

Modern mythology (á la comic-book heroes & Harry Potter) make extraordinary powers something odd, often imposed on those who never asked for it or are forced into concealing it in order to survive.

I don't have a lot of time for the victim mentality, however charmingly restated. (I love Harry Potter and X-Men but still take them in small doses.) And the idea that it's abnormal to be super-anything is not congruent with my experience. I don't know anyone who isn't super-something.

Embracing the deep weirdness of reality and going from there seems much more effective -- and realistic. Notions of normalcy are hopelessly entwined in history and place, sealed with the invisible glue of social fear.

In other words, normalcy is unstable and profoundly irrational, even as we're desperate to hang onto and justify it.

Not very helpful for dealing with bodily meltdown, lasting pain, deep disruptions and the massive issues of powerlessness, poverty and loss that are shaking so many. It's too easy to feel like a victim and a freak.

I've been delving into the mythology of the Titans, creator gods (like Gaia, Rhea, Ouranos, Kronus) who gave rise to the later -- and nastier -- Olympians (like Jupiter, Mars, Hera, and all that crowd.) They deal with devastating changes, massive loss, pain, betrayal, mutilation, everything we face -- but not for one minute do they imagine that they are ordinary, held to small standards, ineffective or meaningless.

They move and think and act and feel as if it mattered, because it does; they are born to their extraordinariness and they own it, warts and all.

I want to reframe the stories we tell ourselves so that we start out being extraordinary -- not by accident or as oddities, but by right. Then the overwhelming tasks we face become merely heinously difficult, not completely beyond us.

We need not waste energy trying to conceal how much we can really bring to bear. We have better things to do.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Define stability

I live on a boat. Not a houseboat, a sailboat. It's 29 feet long, 9'4" at the widest point (outside measurement), and has overhead clearance of just barely 6' in the main cabin.

Since I'm less than 9' wide and 6' tall, this works for me.

A small boat is an unstable surface, shifting with every step and wiggle. You keep your balance by toning your abdominal muscles – as soon as you tighten your midsection, the wobbly feeling disappears, and even if the boat's surface is 30 degrees from horizontal, you can still keep your feet under you.

I have the strongest core of anyone I know who doesn't either live on a small boat or teach Iyengar yoga, because that's just how it works.

A friend of mine moved away and couldn't get rid of his even smaller boat (25' with rather less overhead clearance), so he sold it to me cheap. The main difference between his and mine is that the smaller boat has a larger engine and a thicker hull. It was designed to sail across the Pacific.

Now I have two boats. (That's COMMODORE Idiot, thank you very much.)

For various reasons, it's time to leave the Bay Area. I'll be returning part-time to rural Massachusetts, but I can't hack the cold season. It would be far cheaper and less painful to gnaw bits off me with a blunt and rusty saw. So I have to come up with some way to live and somewhere to be during the off-season.

Did I mention that I have a boat? ... In fact, two?

I'm discussing a boat-partnership with a friend of mine who is capable of the work, but hasn't found out if he really likes it yet. We're going to work on the boats this winter, getting them ready to sell; in the fullness of time, we'll know if we're cashing them in for an upgrade to sail towards the Equator in, or flogging them and splitting the money then going our separate ways.

The second option is easy, sensible, and well within my expectations and experience of life. Our friendship could easily continue intact.

The first is not necessarily any of those things. But the long-term benefit of it is that it would probably give me a second home to go to, somewhere warmer, with the comfort of a friendly face to greet me.

Some think that coming away with a sack of cash is more like stability. Having money reassures me in a way known only to those who've done without. It feels solid.

But what's the value of solidity? I'm used to ground that moves under my feet. Snug up your core, and it's easy to handle. And there's nothing like casting off and taking off, nothing over you but open sky, and your own home flying through the water with such poise that it makes even the cormorants faint with envy.

[IMG cormorant superflock on my birthday sail]

Stability might mean solidity. Or it could mean being able to balance different forces well. Which of these sounds more interesting? Even – or perhaps especially – when you aim to make each day as sparkly and intriguing as a handful of jewels?

[Just wait till I get the pictures up :)]

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On being human, or bearing the unbearable

Mythology helps me put my mind outside my ideas of what's impossible, and thereby live constructively despite CRPS. More on that later, probably, but here's an hour's private lesson with the greatest practical mythologist of all time.

Good for playing over & over while you do other things, and let different bits surprise you on each replay.

C.G. Jung In His Own Words - The World Within [FULL DOCUMENTARY]:

(With grateful thanks to the L. A. Institute for Carl Jung, for providing this whole film on YouTube.)

It's always too easy to sneer at a superficial glance at the work of those who've gone before. There was a time when I thought Jung was pretty wacked, with his giving mythological caricatures such a powerful place in the mind. How simplistic!

Like all superlative work, it only looks simple from a distance. The closer you get to it, the more mind-glowingly complex, subtle and profound it becomes.

I meant to write "mind-blowingly" there, but, for once, autocorrect may have gotten it right.