|Mt. Baker at sunset last night|
It's September 11th, and we all know what that day means to most of us. I've already read several posts from my blogging friends about where they were that day, the significance of the event fifteen years later. That will probably continue for the rest of the anniversary; on this day we will be reminded once again of those planes of destruction flying through the air toward their targets. I won't be watching any TV today, because they will be showing the Twin Towers falling once again. Instead, I'm going on a journey through time.
Time isn't only linear; it can also be event-based. A few days ago, I was lying on my massage therapist's table getting a wonderful rubdown and realized that my sense of the passage of time had morphed from moment to moment into parts of my body: first the back, then the left leg and then the right, and so on. I could have been getting that massage for days, instead of just an hour. My sense of time was concentrated on the pressure of her hands, the oil. Peace and serenity were the only things going through my mind. I was in an altered state, one which doesn't always occur with a massage, but it often does.
Sarah (the massage therapist) and I didn't say even one word during the massage. She communicated with me through her hands, and I with her through receiving the massage. Afterwards, as we set up a time for the next one, I realized that my entire outlook had changed for the better. I get a massage every third Friday, and it's as important for my mental health as anything else I do for myself.
I've been getting regular massages ever since I began to recover from my skydiving accident in June 2000, more than sixteen years ago. About six months afterwards, I was pretty much over the worst of it and could walk without a limp, but the trauma was still very much in my body. My friend Karen gave me the gift of three massage sessions with her own therapist, and that's what started me seeing Melissa on a regular basis. At first I couldn't even allow her to touch my lower back or the areas where the damage was the worst. But during the coming months and years of regular sessions, I was not only physically healed but emotionally as well. Scars will always remain from our injuries, but that's different than allowing ourselves to become crippled by them.
The definition of alpenglow is the rosy light on the setting or rising sun on high mountains. Alpenglow is also very present in my own life, as I see the setting sun as a metaphor for my golden (or glowing) years. I remember well the peaks and valleys of my youth, when I could be ecstatic over a new relationship or even a new restaurant, and the valley of despondency when it ended or closed. I don't have those much any more. My peaks and valleys have all evened out to become much more neutral. I get excited about things, but not like before, and I have low periods, but they have lost much of their drama. It must be the mellowness of aging, and I have to say I like it.
Thinking of some of the high points of my life gives me great pleasure, and the memories will never leave me (at least I hope they won't). Sitting here in my bed with the laptop on my knees, I can recall any number of outstanding skydives and can almost feel the air at altitude, when the door of the airplane is opened and I jump out into space. There is no feeling like it, and even after thousands of skydives, it never lost its adrenaline rush. Just writing about it, bringing it back into my consciousness, makes my heart start beating faster.
Do I miss it? Sometimes I think about it and wonder if I would still have what it takes to get into an airplane with proper gear and jump out. But then I realize, what would be the point? It's like trying to recapture youth when you're old: it just isn't the same and you're fooling no one but yourself. No, I am a retired skydiver, left with many wonderful memories and friends for life. Because of Facebook, I still see those friends posting pictures of their latest skydives, and I'm glad for them. I was there with them once upon a time, but they are carrying on as I sit on the sidelines and cheer them on.
That's perfectly appropriate. I am sitting here in the alpenglow of my wonderful life, realizing that if it ended today, I have done and accomplished everything I ever wished to. Nothing is left undone, or untasted, that appealed to me. Next month I will be heading off to Vashon Island to have the fifth reunion of my blogging friends and a five-day writing retreat. It will be the impetus to capture these feelings and emotions, writing them down and getting feedback from the others. Of course, I get the same thing through the comments that you, my readers, leave on these posts, but the dialog is truncated because the form doesn't allow us a chance to sit down together over a cup of tea and chat.
Robert Frost once wrote, "The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected." And the evening? Well, that's the time to sit and gaze at the far-away mountains shining with the alpenglow of the setting sun. Beautiful, isn't it?
And with that, I have finished another Sunday morning reverie. I will have a latte and share a bagel with my friend John at the coffee shop before heading to my yoga class with Laifong. I just signed up for a fourth semester at Yoga Northwest and I must say, it gives me pleasure to think of that resource available to me for as long as I want. Whatever this day brings to you, I hope part of it will also be a sense of gratitude for the people and critters around you. I know I am filled with it and it's spilling out of the page towards you, my dear reader. Be well until we meet again next week.