My last patient of the day just left and I must scrawl a blog before going home.
All day I’ve been wishing everyone a “Happy New Year” as is the custom, but I just couldn’t say that to my last patient. Life has been very tough for him; every day brings a whole-body pain that’s barely tolerable. Forty years ago he was thrown by a wave in the sea, hit his head hard on the ocean floor and suffered a spinal cord injury. Almost lifeless, he was pulled from the water, but his diminished function made him regret the rescue. Although not paralyzed, he was limited by pain to walking only a couple of steps at a time until a series of Yang Qiao Mai treatments improved his gait, helped realign his structure, and alleviated much of the pain, at least for a certain duration after treatment. To this patient, instead of Happy New Year, I said, Welcome to a year of clear vision! He quipped right back, “I don’t need 20/20 vision to see that my time is up. I’ve been thinking that if I stop coming here I’ll be able to die.” He told me that his self-esteem had collapsed after a well-wisher had suggested that self-esteem is built only through constantly creating actions of which one is proud. Hmm, I said, that would mean that if a person physically can’t do anything, they’re doomed to not having self-esteem at all, and that can’t be right. He thought for a while and then continued. “Ann, it’s too painful to move after two weeks following acupuncture and I can’t come more than once a month because it’s just so much effort to get here. All I do is read all day long. What good is that?”
Strangely, my own mother had voiced similar concerns on her last trip. Once constantly making things, knitting, sewing, cooking, she was distressed about not having enough hand strength for knitting any more. All I can do is read, she said. So I told my patient what I told my mother. Elderly people are invaluable. Not only do they have a wisdom that can only be formed with age, they also have time. And with that time they can think and usually they can read. And when they think and/or read, a very interesting thing happens as the reader fills the space around them with a feeling. It could be inspiration, concern, delight, intrigue, sadness, fear, resolve, dismissal, skepticism, confidence, or an infinite number of thoughts and understandings. The feelings add to the ethers and are available to the sinew channels of all other human beings as etheric support for their inspiration, development, motivation and change. Readers and meditators create substance in the ethers that advances thought, invention and clarity.
I took his pulses midway through his treatment, and indeed, Yin Qiao—the principal channel of self-esteem—was in gear again, the left and right proximal positions moving from side to side like pendula. He lay there, needles in, with the channel fully activated all the way down his left side. He reported that he felt it stretching out, that he was opening and extending back out into the world.
Practice like nothing else matters, because everything does.