Rendered Fat Content


Isaac van Ostade:
Interior of a Stable with three Children (1642)

" … driving home with dirty blues blaring …"

By late July, the garden takes on a frantic aspect. Its regeneration has gone exponential. Cucumbers mature from flowers overnight, and The Muse leaves her morning perusal with both hands full of produce. The tomatoes come next, challenging our tolerance for beneficence and Caprese salads. The apricots produced five years of fruit in a single season, and even the geraniums have gone frantic, needing nearly daily deadheading. We're suddenly running to keep up with what seemed passive last week. It's difficult for me to remember that half the growing season's already gone and that abundance tends to be backloaded, appearing only well after seemingly unacknowledged nurturing occurred. The return comes later when it's almost completely disconnected from its origins, the entire operation utterly dependent upon equal portions of prior knowledge and patience.

I visited the acupuncturist yesterday, an entire month after scheduling the appointment, a whole month and more after the immediate care doctor gave me his diagnosis.
"Deltoid Bursitis," he diagnosed, leaving me feeling clueless. I learned that a whole additional system existed within me, one I'd never heard of before. It runs on previously unimagined rules. I'd stumbled into a world I didn't really want to understand. My first defense involved waiting out the offense. Certainly, I reasoned, this would quickly pass. I had built up no particular karmic excess, no offense demanding divine retribution. I was clearly innocent; even an unjust world should quickly neglect any punishment. Waiting for deliverance, even almost abiding by the injunction to avoid further offense by resting, produced little satisfaction.

The acupuncturist was a quiet kind of terrorist, for she reframed whatever it might be that had been so offending me. She did not treat it with much deference but seemed to give it at least as good as it had been giving me. Deep massage and probing needles wrapped in a New Age soundtrack that soon left me aching for some dirty blues, heavy on slide guitar. I asked her if she ever felt the need to drive home after work with rock and roll blaring just to blow off the lingering influence of that New Age soundtrack. She seemed taken aback by the question. I knew New Age before it became old school, back when it constituted a radical alternative, well before it became a recognized lifestyle. I've seen its devotees come and go to regain a deeper appreciation for previously reviled traditions; for even showing abilities to occasionally appreciate other than improvised everything.

I felt a budding agency rising within me. I felt that I might manage more response than passive acceptance. I might find an offensive game that might take my recovery to its source, where it might assert its dominance. A new sense of agency arose within me, where I could see how I might be the master of my experience again rather than just its chronic victim. "Heat," she suggested, "then cold, then strong vibration. Keep it wondering from which direction you might approach it next. Do not let it rest." I saw the logic in this approach. I'd been letting the owey define the terms of our mutual engagement. I'm now familiar with this one's characteristic ache, signature stab, and one-trick-pony approach, and I possess more variety and more alternatives for a response. I've lost my fear of the worst it can deliver. That stabbing pain comes as no surprise. I recognize that it more often underwhelms me now, though it can still frustrate and occasionally overwhelm me, but even then, only for a second. Its offenses seem slim. My defenses finally seem deeper.

The physical reframing of this situation took a while to seep into my system. I watched as it slipped into my understanding. Now my future could be different. I might not already be cured, but I can no longer feel like its victim. My reactions seem ready to go exponential, like my garden, producing more than might be reasonably expected. I just need to reinterpret this insult and reframe each intrusion. They remind me of the agency I'd initially set aside in confused disorientation. Now that I better understand the problem, I see my role in its resolution. My role was always there. I just hadn't recognized its presence while cowering, waiting for deliverance, which rarely comes to those who patiently await its arrival. I'm driving home with dirty blues blaring instead.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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