Bludgeoned by Joy

I know I’m wired a little differently, but I gather that I’m not the only one for whom a good Flu produces hypersensitivity. As an immune battle cycles through its symptom phases, there is that prolonged passage in which every cell seems to sing in a symphonic ache, which swells the senses beyond their standard boundaries. And sight, hearing, touch,  taste, smell, and yes, even the sixth sense of psychic acuity, are as if flayed open, their skins stretched finer than a film on water. Even the teeth ache, their enamel stretched too thin.

As what they call a “Highly Sensitive Person,” my normal state hovers closer to that experience, and a Flu trip can be quite an entertainingly phantasmagoric ride. Regardless of one’s perceptual sensitivity, though, these dramatic episodes of immune mobilization are a workout for multiple systems of the body. I find they often have a unifying effect.  As the conflagration subsides, it’s as if everything is washed clean, more finely tuned, reconnected.

As I rise and meet the morning after fever breaks, everything is vivid, freshly fond and wondrous. And I am freshly innocent.  It’s as if the nervous system has molted its old skin.

Today was just such a morning, as I stepped out onto the porch into the fresh and drizzle-dampened air; air I drew cool and deep into my still feverish lungs, welcoming consciousness back into my body, and feeling the experience as both fingers and glove.  I stood there for a gentle and meditative QiGong practice, savoring all the inner sensations, but appreciating the outer scene, super crisp and clear, even in the diffusing effect of the falling mist.

At a certain point in this practice, I bent down and performed a maneuver facing my knees for maybe thirty seconds. When I unfurled my spine again and came upright, it was snowing. During my moments upside down, contemplating the tartan legs of my PJs, the rain had turned to snow. In my heightened state, there was something so magical about this. And everything tuned and cleansed from the preceding hours of synchronized throbbing now suffused with an osmotic joy.  

I was enchanted by the sublime choreography of the 10,000 snow drops– fluffy, white paratroopers– descending past the color and taste of the caramel adobe wall behind. …Rhapsodic entertainment, all because of a simple virus, a miraculous immune response, and because I’d finally gotten enough rest to let it in.

I could not help but contrast this with an experience I had only days before with another magical presence descending from the sky. I saw Mary Poppins Returns.  I suspect that this, too, might have purported to be an experience of charm, merriment and innocence.    Alas, our world has become so relentlessly over-stimulating, running at a pace beyond sustainable for many, that even Mary Poppins was powerless to rein in her runaway train.

When I emerged from the movie, the only words I could muster were: Bludgeoned by Joy. There were some great songs and performances; Emily Blount was, of course, superb; and the songs were very clever. But it was too much: too loud, too fast. The pace just breathless.  No room to digest the content.  

When showered with such a barrage of even the most appealing eye and ear candy and mirth, the nervous system cannot help but defend itself, thus getting precious little of enduring value from the experience.  The result was that I scarcely remembered the film as we walked out! 

Pity; there was plenty there I might have gladly savored, if I’d been able.  All that work, time and resources to create the charming image of Mary Poppins landing her poised pumps upon the cobblestones, and what will ultimately linger with a deeper impression upon my tender heart and memory is the landing of snow flakes against mud, snowflakes that would melt before I finish this sentence….Simply because there was space for the experience.

When I was young, my parents took me to California from our land-locked home, and they made sure to take me to Disneyland, because every child wants that, right?  And we spent a good long day there, about which I remember almost nothing. After that we found dinner somewhere near the ocean, and, afterward, we strolled out on a pier and I became enthralled with the experience of watching and feeding the gulls hovering all around me on the thick sea breeze.  That I remember. My parents realized, and observed aloud, that they needn’t have endured Disneyland; I’d have been entertained all day just doing this. It’s as true for me now as it was then. 

What about you?


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