“Healing is complex,” the owner of the small cafe replied.
He was probably fifteen or more years my senior. He was quiet, reserved and continuously co-occupied by what appeared to be data entry on a small older computer. He carried on easily, relaxed and content. People like that always capture my curiosity.
The cafe is part of a cultural oasis that I gathered the owner created and managed. We were on the first level of the two-story building where he sold motorcycle parts and a small, yet obviously good quality choice of riding gear, my favorite of which were the attractive well-designed leather vests.
My friend, whom I had met there for a late breakfast on the way to visit my mother, obviously and understandably loved the place, but the vests were clearly the least interesting to him. We moved on.
Aside from the cafe and parts store, the owner’s art covers the downstairs walls. The upstairs is home to a motorcycle museum.
I had my camera, but it was in the car. Part of me wanted to take pictures of the entire place and everyone in it. The culture inspired me.
For a moment, I fantasized about writing a story about the place. Alas. I had brain fatigue and hadn’t had good sleep in a while. I didn’t have the energy to go get my camera, much less write the kind of story I imagined, but I regress. Chronic widespread fatigue and insomnia is for another story, I guess.
My friend and I were enjoying time together exploring the art. He knew the history behind each piece. “That place looks familiar to me,” I said in sudden excitement over one of the paintings. It was a simple and old square wooden building with long windows, the latter of which brought images from twenty years ago to my mind.
“That’s over in Pisgah,” my friend replied.
“Oh yeah, I remember now,” I told him. “I’ve been there!”
Seeing the building again, even though the painting portrayed an earlier image of the place, as it was before my time, triggered a nice connection to my past. I remembered a gathering and my son’s late grandmother. The place was a community building and my son and I had gone there for a family reunion.
Remembering can be healing. Memories are like the roots of a plant or tree.
The owner started talking about engine parts. My friend walked over to discuss the subject, but I stayed back. I was altogether captured by the art.
Being in a warm environment, enjoying the company of my friend, around people sharing food, while in a place where their accents and the land felt familiar, was soothing to my tired body and mind.
I liked that people weren’t rushed. They talked in a casual way, as if standing around in the middle of the day, having conversations about art, life, engine parts and old Harley Davidson motorcycle engines, simultaneously, was absolutely altogether a fine and perfect way to pass the time, which it was.
Much of the art depicted the countryside and many of them with cows in pastures. They reminded me of my childhood roots.
Two paintings were on a wall apart from the other pieces. They were rather intimate portraits of women. The diversity in his art intrigued me.
One particular painting eventually caught my attention more than the others. “How much is this one?” I asked from across the room. I knew the price was likely not one I could consider, but I wanted to know anyway.
It was unlike any of the other paintings and was perhaps the darkest or rather, as the artist later remarked, “You can see that some of my paintings don’t have the color and life to them like the others do. That’s the way life is. There are times when things aren’t colorful or bright. Things are always changing. I can’t stick to just one subject either.”
I pondered on what he had said. I thought about my blog and how I’ve always struggled to write an About page. I keep changing mine. “What I write about changes all the time,” I told him. “I never know how to describe my blog.”
“That’s good,” he said. “You need a different flavor.”
“That would be a good name for a blog,” I replied, which it would.
I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog for a while. I felt like this conversation was somehow part of that creation.
He talked a little more about focusing on different things. He said something to the effect of life not being about one subject. “Things don’t stay the same,” he added. “You just gotta go with it.”
The painting I liked was of a man sitting alone on a city bench. There was a bagged lunch beside him. Without question, one would assume he had waited on work, without success. It amazes me how people can paint a story with a seemingly simple image.
The man in the painting held his downward head with one hand. “There’s a man with a family,” the artist said to me. I understood what he meant, but I’ve seen many people who looked like the man in the painting who didn’t have a family to support.
At first, the image reminded me of a late friend of mine who had for too long suffered from a troubled mind. I saw despair and worry. I felt the despair, but equally and as importantly, I felt the art. I felt the place it held on the wall with the happier and brighter paintings. Utter despair had a place among the bright colors of a pretty young woman happily wooed by a handsome suitor on a motorcycle.
Where would I put such a painting I wondered. In the hallway, where it’s darker? And why would I do that? Where do people display art depicting sorrow or despair I wondered.
I was right about the price. It was way out of my league, so I didn’t think more about where I would display the painting. I did think again about my writing.
It occurred to me that maybe it’s okay to write about sadness, sorrow, grief and pain. Those are each part of my life experience. Sometimes, I don’t write because of personal sadness. I don’t want to pass it on, but this makes me feel silenced. Writing is a healing process for me. We can’t always dictate the mood, or at least, I can’t. Nor can I choose the subject if I’m in a particular mood.
Healing may well come in a big chunk all at once, but I believe that most times, it comes in pieces. It comes in different shapes and forms. It happens in moments of time. Little pieces of living life.
Personally, allowing myself to accept the colors of life, in the moment, even when they are faded or dark, is a healing experience.
Today I went to a horticulture therapy class with my adult son. I’d meant to drop him off and have time to myself. I was however drawn in by the energy of the grounds and the wonderful people. Next thing I knew, I was invited to take part, so I did.
My son and I had a great time! We experienced healing. Truly, we did. We’ve since discussed this. However, the time exhausted us both.
Healing sounds like a happy and complete word, as if the meaning points only to creating or evoking emotions that we view as being the more positive ones, such as joy or peace, but sometimes having a cry is very good for the body and mind. Crying produces chemicals that can help us feel better.
Experiencing healing doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly better. There is a continuum of time involved. Healing isn’t an isolated event that takes away all of our troubles or pain. That would be more accurately labeled a miracle.
Both my son and I had good feelings and a positive experience during and after horticulture therapy. We each have reasons for how we were affected and we dealt with that in our separate ways. He slept the entire day after coming home, got up for dinner, and went back to bed. He needed sleep. We had both experienced what could be called post-neural fatigue.
I spent the rest of my afternoon with the Alchemist. We talked about the fire of life, sadness and peace. He encouraged me to, “Walk on Mother Earth,” a phrase he said he liked better than exercise, which I do too. We discussed my acknowledging a connection to our, “True Mother,” by imagining roots growing from my feet into the ground. We talked about me taking notice of the sky, or as he refers to it, “the Heavens,” and he reminds me to be open to the light and vastness of that. I do enjoy these particular visualizations. They help me feel more connected. He made me laugh to help with my tears. I left with a brighter inner fire and a deeper sense of belonging in this world.
Perhaps sometimes healing is a gentle gift given through something as simple as a few kind words from a stranger or a shared meal with a friend. Other times healing is more complicated. Something or someone may show us our reflection in a different light and we may not like all of what we see.
Maybe we see how much we need other people, which is a vulnerable place for some of us, but like with the horticulture therapy class we attended, I realized that the other participants needed my son and I there as much as we needed to be there.
The gap between our good time and the healing that happened was filled with an array of emotions for me, and I guess, for my son as well. I could see that it helped us to share ourselves and interact with people, but for a little while, I felt sad when I realized how much time we’ve been isolated from the world.
I’m sure that after resting and eating a few good raw beets, we’ll both arrive at the next class excited to see how the tender young Bok Choy that we transplanted are growing! And, I hope to meet my friend again at the cultural oasis in the country.
I agree with the nice man I met, “Healing is complex.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia Commons
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