The Roundabout Way

IMG_0188I walked the labyrinth twice this morning and both times nearly lost my way. Maybe it was just a reflection of my life recently; seems like I’ve been losing my way quite a bit – especially this week.

When we arrived midday on Tuesday, I rested, ate lunch, then walked through the site down to the labyrinth. Over the past month, during my absence, ‘Gung the organic gardener had replanted tufts of grass all over the place. There were clear signs of rebirth, of renewed plant life. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and elation.

But I barely had time to absorb the wonderful sight that met my eyes when the first pangs of pain appeared. By the time I returned to the house, the right side of my sacrum was pulsing, my left foot felt crushed, and the underside of my left arm, from armpit to palm was buzzing. They all flared up in rapid succession, in places that rarely registered anymore. It was only 4 pm, I was diving off the deep end of the pain scale and I hadn’t yet lifted a finger.

WHAT was going on? Why this tidal wave, such a tsunami of pain? Why now?

I felt like a freak. I wanted to scream, but what was the point? Who could do anything for me?

How ironic, I thought, once the pain began to subside: the labyrinth looks like it is finally healing, while I’m here racking up more frequent-pain miles.

And  then it dawned on me that I was getting a message, before I even had a chance to get my hands dirty. As if hightailing it to Tabanan, away from Ubud, far far away from Lombok,  could somehow justify my abandonment of ‘the plan’ – no physical exercise or labor other than walking – I was planning to get right back on track at the lab. As if moving elsewhere somehow made it ok for me to kneel and squat and dig and push and pull and carry. Call it willful blindness.

It all came down to love at first sight: love of the labyrinth, love of seeing it rebirthing, love of tending to it and making sure that it would continue to flourish. I knew I would have to dig the sunken limestones out quickly before the grass grew long enough to envelop them completely, and before the circuit lines were all but invisible. The mere possibility that I might have to re-do the circuits from scratch was motivation enough for me to disregard ‘the plan.’

P didn’t know about ‘the plan’ so she wasn’t surprised when I headed down to the lab in my work-clothes Wednesday afternoon. This much I was willing to concede: I’d modify my schedule, tone down my toiling. But how quickly one forgets…soon enough I was at it again: digging out limestones, replacing them with cut-off pieces of bamboo, hauling stones off the terrace.

As if my brain could reconcile what I was doing, I continued to take the pills, but steered clear of sending an SMS to Hay to update him on my condition. I thought I had it all under control

Then, in quick succession: A dream Thursday night, messages from books I was reading and movies I was watching, and yesterday, a call from Ubud – are you taking the meds? How are you feeling?

I was cruising towards a full-blown meltdown. And then, while P and S were at the site, and I was alone in the house looking out the window, I broke down and cried. All the pain and guilt and dishonesty were weighing on me heavily. I’d been carrying not just stones but a secret.

When the tears dried, I struggled to accept the truth. I had to stop.

It was my fourth re-birthday (4 year anniversary since surviving my accident) so I would give myself a gift; love, self-care and awareness.

When I explained the situation to P, I was feeling vulnerable, helpless and useless. I offered a solution, one that would hand over all the physical work to a couple of laborers, while I would guide them and gently shoo limestones and bamboo pieces out of the way with my foot.

Today, in the late morning hours, as ‘Gung and Dino pulled weeds and as Bahul and Udi pulled lime stones, I tried really hard to surrender. The guys didn’t know it, but in a roundabout way, they were helping me find my path again.

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