“I can’t sleep in this fevered dream.”
It always starts with a “Yesterday” or a “Last week” or some marker in time, as if closeness or distance matters to what’s right, versus what’s right now.
As it goes, yesterday, I received a surprise Reiki session, gifted by my neighbor and former client, Arthur. He wrote a book once, and I edited it once, and somewhere in there, a friendship formed.
But this is not the story. Call it a “false start,” even if the content is true. Call it “small talk” or “chatter.” I told Arthur to cut the first 50 pages of his book out, and he still decided to friend me. Because “friend” is a verb now; “friend” happens. And through this friending, and despite the suggestion to cut out those first few delicate pages, he gifted me with a 60-minute Reiki session—something he didn’t know that I wrote down less than a week ago on my “New Moon” list of desires: to get back into Reiki myself (learning it), to have its power be a force in my life. Arthur simply and gently wanted to do something kind for me, after a few margaritas a week ago led me to publicly sob in his presence.
The Reiki lady said, “Accessing your higher chakras—8 through 12—will help you with your throat chakra, like you want.” My thyroid. The connection between the pituitary gland in the third eye chakra, to my thyroid, in the throat. The connection of my heart, just below it, to the truth above, so I may speak it. And know, with good conscience, what I’m saying.
The Reiki masters never have a name in my head, even when I know them. They are always “Reike [something]”—master, woman, healer, friend. It seems my turning points have revolved around these energy healers.
Through them, I’ve discovered an unabashed me. The me that remembers Spirit, the me that connects to my tears and to my strength.
Her name is Kathy. Like my sister’s, but with a curly “y,” instead of a straight and pointed “i” at the end. This connection is somehow relevant.
This connection shows how in tune Arthur is with who needs what, how, and from whose hands.
“You write with a sword,” the voice said.
And this is how the story really starts. With action. With mystery. With a slice that is followed by silence.
“You write with a sword,” and the sword appeared to the right side of my mind, silver, large, and glowing. The Reiki woman stood near my head, where those “higher” chakras in the etheric realm glisten and move energy down from the heavens, into the heart—the same higher chakras I’m supposed to get in touch with, to reach up into.
“You write with a sword,” and the sword in front of me was now poised in my hand, its weight and grip, firm and easy. It pointed upward, giant, mighty. The glow, a sorbet swirl of sparkling yellow and white, a sword that’s polished with lightning. The words pounded in my head, almost like a yell: they were loud, steady, powerful to hear in this quiet room, as if banging an African cow-skinned drum. I took the words and the sound into my breath, and got excited by its verve; I was drumming and dancing with it, letting the words beat wildly in my aura. I even smiled outwardly, in the dark.
The Reiki woman moved to the left side of my body, with her warm hands sending heat to my cold fingers, holding them in an energy that felt like physical touch.
It’s not like a massage, where you are naked and someone, usually a stranger, is palming and kneeding your muscles. They can tell which muscles are used more frequently, where you hold tension and stress. They help relieve the physical body, which aides the spirit. But a masseuse who is strictly a masseuse (not an energy worker) can only assume the origin of pain. You are naked, but clothed and protected by your secrets. With energy, there’s nowhere to hide. Chakras are very specific in why and how they are lacking. Clothes are on, but energy is transparent; the healer senses the inner truth you rarely show, the heart truth; they enter a conversation with your spirit, and feel where you are flowing and where you are clogged. And because the receiver senses this sacred transaction—this necessary unmasking for a Spirit to heal—the receiver lets go.
I heard more words, as if a roaring pulse.
“You are right,” they said, more than once.
“You are right” repeated in every spot that the Reiki woman’s hands traveled.
It was a validation not of a judgement or opinion I’d gathered, but a validation of existence. You—in all that you are, in all that you realize, in all that you wish for, and feel and love and pattern out—are right.
My higher self and spirit guide, Helen, was above me this time, at the head of the room. Glowing white, with her long blonde hair, and with me feeling a renewed sense of power, I tried to access the healer’s guide, too. I saw her—a dark purple figure with violet hair, appear large in the room, just like Helen, but near the healer, at my feet. I said to Helen, playfully, “How’s she doing over there?” Helen laughed, and said, “Aah, she’s alright.”
She smiled and winked at me, knowing that the skill and depth of the healer was no matter; everything I needed to know was coming through, intense and clear.
Today—again with the time, to make known that a night of dreaming has passed—I got my coffee from Fair Bean. I walked in, the only woman in a packed coffee shop of men. Eyes turned before I even reached the door. Wearing white, a bit disheveled, like I’d been working in a garden (perhaps while dreaming?), with iodine bright orange on my fingers from spilling it on my leg to heal some recent radiation poison apparently from my last trip to Northern California, I knew immediately that these men weren’t seeing any of this: they peered beyond me—eyes fixed and open and honest (truly). My first impression to them as a stranger, this magnetism and attention, this seeming awe, was due to wearing my Spirit bright and alive, like the healthy glow of skin.
Inspired to visit Half Price Books, I picked up some material from the Writing section that I usually avoid unless I’m specifically scouting how other professionals coach writers; if they’re doing it better, or more creatively, or a way that will help my own clients. In my opinion there is nothing more boring than a book about writing. But, thankfully my opinion is subject to exceptions, because I opened a collection of essays called “The Writing Life,” and everything about it—the brittle yellowed pages, the tight language, the absence of the word “writing” and the abundance of stories that subtly encased lessons—screamed out my name.
The adventure continues:
In the poetry section, where I usually avoid books about mechanics on poetry and, instead, elect to get lost in actual poetry, another book jumped out. Orange in cover. A dainty font, like I love. “Beautiful & Pointless: a Guide to Modern Poetry” by David Orr.
Because there was no other place
to flee to,
I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
came back last night at midnight,
arriving in the thick June night,
without luggage or defenses,
giving up my car keys and my cash,
keeping only a pack of Salem cigarettes
the way a child holds on to a toy.
I signed myself in where a stanger
puts the inked-in X’s—
for this is a mental hospital,
not a child’s game.
–Ann Sexton, pg 13.
In the psychology section, where I like to graze sometimes, I picked up a tiny paperback called “Inner Harvest,” because it has a beautiful moon on the cover. The inside—which I didn’t realize until opening—is a daily meditation for people with eating disorders. Those two words still twist me up, even though I feel far gone from my own struggles. It’s a semi-known part of my history that I used to have one, but even more true to me now is that, healing, no matter where you are in your self-worth, confidence and habits, is an everyday decision you show up to, like a relationship or—well, meals! Plus, the wisdom is beautiful:
“We attract what we project.”
“When the well threatens to run dry, it’s time to rest and refill.”
“Why not heed that gentle nudge?”
The action unfolds:
As I’m not judging myself for buying guides on writing and eating disorders, instead of the meaty, gritty works of imagination and art, still wearing my Spirit bold and centered, I realize that a storm of words are hitting me, and it sounds like my own voice. It’s saying stuff about real life and real people and real settings. And it might be the thrill of coffee, but it’s saying, you are good at telling the truth, when you choose to tell it. It’s saying, you make the truth readable, bearable. You make the truth light and heavy and fun. You write with a sword, and pierce the world to life. And for now, as you get closer to yours, the one you want to live, the voice inside your heart, it might be the best way to live fully in it. To make sure you feel it and tell it. To share the truth, with soft eyes, courage and a smile.
“Surrealist realism” is what I’m calling this flood of text inside me. Like analyzing behavior of mental patients, or artists, it’s the indirect route that excites me.
“Tell the truth, but tell it slant,” Emily Dickinson has said, which has stuck in my mind like a fever. Give the truth a body that changes shape. Bend the arc. The inner thoughts, the what-if’s, the obsessions, the missed and pioneered steps. Give the truth a relationship and a heartbeat and a good, honest chance.
It’s how I tell stories, anyway.
And not just that: we must take note! Psychology books have FAR more compelling titles than the books I pass by in fiction and poetry.
- “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”
- “A Leg to Stand on”
- “The Invisible Partners”
- “The Island of the Colorblind”
- “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness”
- “Proust Was a Neuroscientist”
- “Doro: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria”
I think there’s a misconception that writers be the “best” at being a writer: diligent, always note-taking, always spitting out clever words like a magical fountain that turns out rainbows, as if your only job in this world is to be a writer and only that, which is why I sometimes hate that word and avoid it when buying books, except for today. No, you must be a researcher. A psychologist. An experiment. A comedian. A reader. A lover. Someone who fucks up and gets fucked, and absorbs a lot of psychic junk that you have to sort through and give away and sometimes burn or bury so no one finds it. You have to make things better. Say a prayer. Invite a miracle. Give of yourself to yourself first. And then, who knows? Become an acrobat? Start a non-profit?
This is how the story keeps going.
With a sword, some courage and heart.
“I find it strange, find it strange that you’re wandering in this place
I thought it’d changed, thought it changed, but the more it stays the same.
Which one of us will look away?
Say the words that we don’t say?
Have I been taken by you one more time?
My [mind], it’s like we never looked into each other’s eyes.”