I Almost Forgot
By Janet Hogan Chapman (aka GeorgiaJanet)
The sea breeze was cool on the flesh as the early summer sun slipped among the high clouds for a nap, and I thought of doing the same, but first — I will practice mindfulness as my therapist so passionately recommends. The inventory begins. My eyes were scrunched against the assault of briny air. Wisps of hair, escaped from my ponytail binding at my nape teased my neck and ears. A slight turn shifted their play and moved the incessant whooshing to my other side. The conscious loosening of my shoulder blades drained tension like the receding waves erased marks in the sand. The occasional piece of shell or debris marred the satin sheen of the wave’s retreat here and there, just as the muscle twinges could resurrect my remembrance. I continued my mindfulness experiment. Moving below the shoulders, between breast and collar bone, coolness prevailed on blotchy-tanned skin as aging skin is wont to do. No pretty solid olive here, as once upon time there had been. But there was no pain, no tingle, no ache, and again I almost forgot. But then, moving out on the same plane to my upper arms the coolness of the breeze on the surface could not cover the throb deep within the muscles and the bursa between. It was constant, again like the waves continually hammering the shore in front of me. The tympanic pounding never lets me forget. I accept this and move on. The breast and diaphragm register my breath. I feel air move in and out effortlessly. I am not under duress. Descending further, my stomach is at rest and again I almost forget, except the calm and lack of dyspepsia are so rare it is notably surprising. In such stark contrast to my usual state I am in wonder and awe of it, savoring this blessing for the rare treasure it is — a beautifully felt but unseen gift. Again moving out on the plane that in my sitting position is level with my middle, I come to my hands. Ah, the hands! How they belie the calm of the torso. The fingers curl in their contracted state of repose. The hands’ peaceful appearance, like the ocean surface on a windless day, covers the current flowing beneath. But the swells between the fingers are there, just like the swells in the sea. Unlike the throb of the upper arm, the deep heat and tenderness in the hands runs constant. Beginning as a mild glow in the wrist it oozes downward into the distended goose-head of the finger roots, the heat and intensity growing, forming a lava-like dome of pain. The surface radiates heat as the inflammation permeates down through the palm. Finally, the sludge diverges into individual rivers down each finger. I cannot forget. Back to the core. The bowels, like the stomach, are pleasantly and unusually serene. I lift a silent prayer of gratitude for this small but significant pleasure, and again I can almost forget. Then a small inkling of urgency makes itself known. Not truly a part of my almost forgotten constant companions of FM (fibromyalgia) and RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), but distant cousins in my extended family of maladies with which I contend. The very blood of life pulsing in my vessels and through le coeur tends to pound too persistently. A slurry of chemicals, reduced to a rainbow assortment of pills and capsules, keeps the blood and fat from bursting my heart and brain. Miraculous alchemy! Taming the wild pulse while urging the body to rid itself of unwanted fluid and byproducts. It has successfully beaten the blood’s pressure from a damaging torrent to a manageable course by diversion. The detour of my mindful body-map roadtrip satisfied, I move on. Fulfilling the necessities of the body can sometimes help me almost forget. I recline again to continue my journey. A moment of respite, then the slight reminder. Where hips meet chair (despite the generous padding of adipose tissue) the lurking pressure points are revealed. Not an extreme flare as they can be at times, but just enough as if they are saying, “Forget about us? Never!” It is the same with those annoying mid-leg knobs. Not excruciating, but gentle reminders that they are not to be forgotten either. Finally, the pedicured foundation. Sand presses into my soles. An occasional precocious wave cools and siphons away the heat that equals that of the hands. Even at rest, my feet relay messages of their role in the general malaise of my body, content to smolder rather than rage as long as I don’t submit them to the chore of supporting and transporting my body. I can gaze at the magnificence of the sea, the sand, the sky, life in general, and I can almost forget. Almost. As the sun slips behind another cloud for an afternoon nap, I slip beyond my own veil of wakefulness and abandon my body to sleep, sweet sleep.