Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Message of the Massage

I go in for a massage last week. As she scents the room with orange blossom and sandalwood, the massage therapist asks me if I have any "issues." So I start in on my litany of symptoms, that old thoracic outlet syndrome. What joy to have someone in thrall to every click and pop your body makes! I get as naked as I can, given the fact that I have my period, and "hop" ( for hop, read lumber) up on the table, position myself face down, nose through the horseshoe-shaped faceholder thing, which always makes me feel like a dairy cow in a stanchion. My masseuse with the many tattoos proceeds to beat upon me in the most satisfying way. Desultory chat continues for a few minutes, but then the deep relaxation that comes from placing your body in someone else's hands, someone you trust, takes over and I enter a meditative state. Skin spangling under her touch, my mind wanders. Goes nowhere, finds its way in and out of cul-de-sacs. Time runs at some different speed than usual.
Here's the weird part. When she finishes any section of my body, my left leg, say, she pauses, lays her hands lightly at the top of my leg and brushes her fingers from thigh to heel. I don't know what this is for. Whoa! She's done! Then she rings a gong. Why? She leaves so I can get redressed in private and I see that it wasn't a gong, but a large white glass bowl that she hit with a stiff cardboard tube. I hit it too a few times. Delightful alternative Eastern religious spiritual feeling, and so cheap! Well, I'm only $125 the poorer. Good deal.
We Westerners are such cheap dates when it comes to Eastern mysticism. We want all the benefits of Zen without doing any of the hard work. They must know something over there on the other side of the Pacific. They all look so calm. So much calmer than we feel. They must be happy, we think. Maybe that's what happiness looks like. Don't forget though, in Japan and China, they think we all look so happy over here, smiling so big all day long. Maybe if they watch our movies and buy all the stuff we sell here, they can smile like us. Who knows?

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