Portland, Oregon's Cancer Survivorship and Bodywork Zine by Compassion Arts PDX, LLC
A blank page may be the most ominous foe I’ve ever happened upon. It snarls and breathes heavy. A white void where all possibility is possible.
The quiet night is shattered with every key press. The space slowly fills with the clatter of words.
The stream bubbles and crackles. There is life here, filling the void with some quiet thought that escapes the confines and solitude of the inner world.
There’s almost too much memory. It’s all so unfiltered. Random. How to catch any of it and get it out onto the page? It’s like wrestling a cloud. You know it’s there, but there’s not much graspable substance to it.
Let’s stroll back…
The night was cool. The only sound was breath. The dogs at my side; the pack hunts.
Every foot fall becomes intentional. Every breath, measured and calculated. Perhaps a human beings first sense of interoception is the feeling of one’s own heartbeat, setting the rhythm of the personal moment.
I found a trickle under a bridge and sang to the bums, the pups splashing in the shallow creek waters. Voice reverberated off concrete. A 2:00 am prayer for the homeless.
It’s now summer. I’m in my 38th year hanging out on the side of this whirling pebble. Two years ago, I took my first jog around the park, exhausted after a single lap. I had just ended my marriage. I was just finding out I was free. And, that I had so much more life in me than I ever knew.
Much of my adult life was spent in front of a computer. Chemotherapy had been difficult on my body. When the body has a difficult challenge in the simple motions of life, it wears unevenly on the spirit.
For years, my calves would burn. I could only walk a few blocks before my legs would painfully seize. A desert crossing and the last steps before collapse. I tried to push myself, but my heart would beat solid in my chest and my calves would quit. I was a little, old man from the time I was 18.
Bodywork and writing have a few similarities. I never quite what know what’s going to happen next. Every moment is preceded by countless other moments. This breath is built by every other breath before it.
So, let’s add one more thing to the resume… Licensed massage therapist, musician, photographer and… writer!
Just a quick aside, iA Writer continues to be a super spiffy writing tool on the iPad 2! I’ve written every single blog entry with this excellent, minimalist word processor.
Years ago, right around the time I was attending East West College in Portland, Oregon, I was up in Oly …that’s Olympia, Washington… in a record shop. I stumbled upon a compact disc called “A Meeting by the River” by Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. Within the verbose liner notes, the recording engineer went on about the first meeting of the two musicians. They improvised a musical discussion based off of Jelaluddin Rumi’s epic poem, the Masnavi.
They included a few lines from the poem… Words that I have not forgotten and have greatly shaped my life choices since.
“Let the beauty we love
be what we do;
There are hundreds of ways
to kneel and kiss
-Rumi, 13th century Persian mystic
Not a single note of the recording was written in advance. A complete improvisation between two masterful artists. It is beautiful in it’s crests and swells, in it’s quiet moments and builds.
Music, inspiration… Let it shape our bodywork. Let our sessions build and sway, dancing with the always newfound. Let the work be an epic poem, let it be an album that takes it’s listener on a journey of their proprioception, of their awareness. An experience that transforms through this kinesthetic conversation of touch.
I recently made some music with the wonderful Marcia Muench. Even on days when we both feel a little off, she and I still manage to improvise something fun. This is a track called Sunset Lullaby.