Every so often, my nights are broken up with a lightning bolt of pain coursing through my sacrum, buttocks and left leg. I’m shaken awake, cringing, muting a shriek that’s forcing its way up my throat by placing my face up against the pillow (lest I awaken Pak Ketut and Ibu Nyoman asleep downstairs).
I wish someone could explain to me: Why is this still happening???
Sometimes, a swell of panic rises through my body: what if it gets worse? what if I need help? what if I scream but nobody comes? (Which I know in my heart won’t happen because at least a few sleeping souls downstairs would rush upstairs and knock on my door – but in that moment of pain and panic, my heart is terrified).
I grabbed for my leg, tried to soothe my sacrum, wondered how long this episode would last.. and would I last… Rocking myself from side to side, all I could think of was make this pain go away… please…
And then, though I could not yet see through the haze, a message kicked in from deep inside: Instead of reaching for a painkiller (which is pretty much ineffective by now), I reached for my breath. I reminded myself to slow down, breathe deeply and into the pain.
As the worst of it dissipated, and I felt like I was coming back to myself, I noticed what I call the sweetest spot: A near-silent night, void of roosters crowing, dogs barking, motorcycles roaring by, people talking and laughing. The crickets and cicadas were quiet, the birds asleep, the tokeks and cecaks curled up on window frames and hidden away in corners.
Eventually, the pain subsided enough that I could limp off my bed, unlock the door and go outside. Wide awake by now, I lay on the padded bench and continued to breathe deeply. Gazing out into the sky, I listened to the silence all around me. Nothing was moving.
Wow, I thought, so this is what Bali must have sounded like before the onslaught of motorbikes, cars, trucks, tourists and touts.
What a gift for all my senses. Amen.