Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I wonder if someone is praying for me. Because things hardly ever get better on their own. We only think they do because we get used to the ruins. My arm actually seems better. I wouldn’t even have been concerned about it except the new shoulder pain was so near the atrophy and the nerve damage. But all day I haven’t felt the brachialis pressure that caused the tingling and numbness, and the pain is much less too. A little tingling now, but ... could it be healing? Is such a thing possible? Is there mercy left in the world, that God can still smile?

I was ambivalent about the new pain, because I could identify a moment when I might have sustained some rotator cuff damage. A sort of one-armed handstand while I was rolling. So I had the hope that it wasn’t the old thing spreading and getting worse. I figured I’d give it a chance to heal. I put a wet towel in a freezer bag and microwaved it. Heat pack. For hours and hours. I’m very diligent. And I went online and bought a vibrating lumbar pillow, turned it upside down and have it buzzing away between my shoulder blades. Twenty bucks. Good deal.

Heat heals. Cold stops inflammation. Two different things. I’ve been wondering about the standard advice about injuries. Ice ice ice. Inflammation is a healing response. Why do we want to stop it? I expect it’s because most people’s systems are so out of balance that there is an extreme response. Too many flames. It has to do with all that talk about Omega-3 EFAs. They’re the substrate for anti-inflammatory hormones. Omega-6s are the raw materials for inflammatory hormones. Since most people get far too little Omega-3, and far too much Omega -6, the off-switch for inflammation barely exists. All gas and no brakes. If you have any corn oil or sunflower or safflower or soy oil, throw it away. Right now. Or oil your hinges with it. It isn’t food. Buy some flax seed oil, or at least olive oil. Good lord, haven’t you ever read a book? You have to live in that body. So take care of it.

I have a pretty solid faith in my body. It’s always served me well. That’s because I’ve taken care of it. Vegetarian for coming on to 30 years now. Someone was laughing tonight about when he’d asked me how I got abs, and I said I’d always had them. I guess that’s unusual. But it shouldn’t be. Be active, and don’t be fat. No mystery. The unusual thing must be that I’ve always just naturally used core strength. An unintended benefit. The intended benefit, of my lifelong habit of fitness, is good health. There are no guarantees -- diet won’t stop a bullet, and while disease isn’t as arbitrary as most people are pleased to believe (because it relieves them of responsibility), it can still strike anyone for no discernible reason. The lottery of the gods. We are here for their amusement. Consider my servant Job

A few days ago someone I care about got a severe knee injury. Needs surgery and no insurance. Some of the fellas got the idea to take up a collection. When we think about all the money we waste on all the crap we buy, I suppose helping a young man with a catastrophic injury shouldn’t be at the bottom of the list. We cannot find any guarantee of safety. A sword hangs over every head. But someone told me that quite a few guys were interested in helping. It’s enough to make you weep. The only guarantee we can count on is the one we make ourselves, and keep. There’s only one light in the world, and it shines through, out of how we treat each other.

A few days ago my step-father had a fall, and is in the emergency room right now. He’s Parkinsonian, and diabetic, and seems to be getting Alzheimer’s. It’s gotten to be too much for my mother. I’m going to have to move into their house. Well, I’ve moved before. I’ve closed up households before. I’m an empty-nester. My step-father is a dear man, and I have always loved him. I was the first of us to see his qualities. But he treated his body like a garbage can, and now he is miserable and a burden to my mother. I’ll try to shoulder some of the burden. It’s not like I have a lot of chicks over. I go to their place. It’s the gentlemanly thing to do.

You see? So much pain. So little certainty. We can put faith in virtually anything. Hardly anything is faithful. Suffering, saints inform us, has a purpose. Sages tell us that wisdom grows out of anguish, as flowers spring from manure. Who am I to argue? If I were another man, though, I would take up those I love in my long arms and do what I could to take their suffering into myself. Now, though, bound up in ice as I am, I will make do with prayer. Maybe it works. If it doesn’t, we can dispense with meaning altogether, and let flames consume all flesh.


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