Love’s Purgatory is a Thistle Field

Spilanthes Oleracea L. (2 of 4 in a series on losing love and regaining a life)

Spilanthes Oleracea L.

Spilanthes is the flower that the Thistle Whistle farmer, Mark, uses to get kids excited about farming, however all that it did for me was to give a horrible numb tongue, inexplicably over-active salivary glands, and a horrible bitter flavor in my mouth. As it turns out, Spilanthes is also part of a sort of farm hazing. When Mark heard I had never heard of Spilanthes, he changed the direction he was going to walk back to the greenhouse to harvest a few flowers. Upon return, he gave me a benign looking flower with an excited, yet slightly sly smile on his face. Popping it into my mouth even after his warning of numbness, I discovered that not everything that a farmer hands you is tasty. Cringing and spitting, salivating without control, I exclaimed that I was not a fan of the flower, but guess I could check that off my bucket list of experiences. As we walked on, Mark reached down to pull a leaf off the Papalo as a chaser to the Spilanthes. He said “it’s kind of like cilantro”. With a bitter, salivating, numb mouth, the “kind of like cilantro” Papalo made me gag outright. In hindsight, I should have taken a cue from my fellow young farm worker when she glanced up with a look of amusement and passive warning. Chewing on Papalo after eating a Spilanthes flower was like taking a shot of bleach after swigging on gasoline. Mark chuckled on and I thought “well, I guess he has a sense of humor” and “I guess I should be glad to be hazed as a farm intern”. The “hazing” was brief and gentle, nor done to cause me pain, though the bitter flavor and tingling sensation lingers on in my mind still.

Just a week into living on the farm and my hands have tingles like pin cushions. They feel like they have fallen asleep and are in deep slumber. At night, after hours of sleeplessness picturing Her face and seeing Him with love in his eyes for Her, I find that I am only to be awaken again by my hands tingling. When I wake in the night from the numbness radiating, I roll this way and that to try and stretch my hands incessantly in hopes to regain feeling in them. When the numbness starts to fade a bit I shudder slightly from pain that comes up the tips of my fingers into my forearms. As soon as I wake, I am haunted again by their faces. After some time, the numbness and pain slightly fades and I drift back to sleep till the next time I am awaken with tingling pain radiating through my hands and ghoulish faces crossing my mind.

I see Her face so clearly it is as if I am looking in a mirror. I learned about their affair, or relationship, depending on who you talk to, through intuition-driven internet google searching on sites where lives are shared in an “instant” and people call each other “friends” though really are not there for you in real life. She is no one i’ve ever been acquainted with in person, but through the breakthrough, or breakdown, depending on how you look at things, of modern community I am too knowledgeable of her comings and goings. At first, I looked on to find Him and to find truth. I wanted to confirm that the house was actually on fire rather than continuing to sit in a smoke filled room coughing and wondering who lit such an atrocious candle. She is the variety of woman to celebrate her image a lot and, through technological advances, has an audience that supports her even on days the mirror cannot hide deep, internal blemishes that the camera is unable to Photoshop. She is much like a grocery store advertisement for cherries that awaken salivary glands by images on shiny newspaper and are sorely disappointing once grocery store fluorescent lighting reveals industrially produced, manicured balls in plastic bags. All the more upsetting, once home one’s teeth sink into flesh far less juicy than the advertisement seemed to announce. As time has gone on, I find myself looking at her through the computer filled with emotion ranging from wonder and perverse curiosity to sadness, anger, and bitterness. Even now, after I have said a final goodbye to Him, She invades my thoughts. Each time I envision Her face my body contorts internally, my heart is stabbed with pain, and I feel ill.

Vis Medicatrix Naturae is the Latin term meaning “the healing power of nature”, so tells me “Empowered Health Through Self Healing”, which is a short paper written by and left from the community naturopathic chef in town who recently blew by the farm and overtook the kitchen one day for a class about naturopathic medicine. The reading tells me that “illness is a blessing and is intended to guide us to greater levels of wellbeing”. Reportedly, illness is not malevolent, nor benevolent, but rather is an “expression of Self Awareness that will heal us. It is the method, albeit possibly uncomfortable, that we can use to heal. Illness is the cure.” Without a doubt, I agree that illness is an uncomfortable process and will be the first to admit that I am ill. The blessings of the last several months were hard to distinguish from the pits of hell and nihilism. My lover told me I was crazy, which societally tells us is something to steer away from. In deed, many have steered away from me. I like the idea that the naturopathic chef tells us that insanity is actually my cure. I like the justification at least.

My friends and family are outright upset and appalled that I would spend time looking at Her images and interact with Him, which I did for so long. He, himself, has chosen to “move forward” and has created a story that is void of lies and deceit. The naturopathic chef instructs, however that we cannot ignore the truth, or block signs of illness in order to start to heal. They say that the uncomfortable is not to be ignored and that “the roots of illness lie deep in our unnatural cravings for what is harmful and our fear and aversion of what is truly beneficial for us…the cravings become our actions with physical results that form inevitable and inescapable illness through programmatic behavior that blocks real relationships with our true nature. I looked at Her yesterday at while at the kitchen table. I looked at while Her sitting on the toilet and taking a reprieve from weeding the corn. Last night I looked at Her while sitting inside my farm trailer and had nightmares all night each time my tingling hands woke me up. Undoubtably this pattern is harmful and unnatural. I may not be a doctor, or and expert in Vis Medicatrix Naturae, but i’m willing to bet that my hands are fairly connected to looking at Her blog and calling Him. The center space of my chest has been in pain for months and my back muscles, that have had to bear more burden than usual, are fatigued. This blocked, heavy space in my chest has had enough and, I sense, is blocking something each time feeling leaves my hands.

Healing comes from our power to govern our daily actions beginning with our thoughts tells Vis Medicatrix Naturae and begins with kindness and compassion. My thoughts have been consumed by the story that was cut short, lies and deceit, and personal beliefs of insufficiency. Desiring truth found me found me standing in front of a train feeling the wind and intense rumble of the towering machine after running into Them in love walking together downtown. Knowing that the train was to not be the end of my story, shuddering and crying, I finally heard my friend’s suggestion that it was time to start over. The suggestion of “going to the farm”, often meaning an insane asylum, has taken a literal meaning in my life as I have found myself surrounded by pasture, chirping birds, fields of produce, goats, and mischievous farmers.

The tingling in my hands are not the issue, but my hands, connected directly to my heart, are my guide. Also, my lover and the woman who loves the mirror are no more than an issue than the Spilanthes and Popalo were when Mark stopped to pick me some to try. I think about the tingling and bitterness that the plants left in my mouth and see farmer Mark’s smile. He told me that he has a friend who loves Spilanthes and has eaten 34 at one time. Apparently his young children like it, too, and think it tastes much like Pop Rocks to them. The bitterness of the plant lingers on in my mind and I remember Mark’s kindness. It is all perspective, perhaps.

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