Tag Archives: Jesus

Intro to Massage Workshop

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Yesterday, I did a 5-hour introductory massage course in Covent Garden, with a view to ingratiating myself with kin and well-behaved house guests over the cold Winter months.

On arrival it wasn’t that dissimilar in feel to the Speed Awareness one I did a few months back, but for being held in a tropically-heated basement, attendees clutching a towel and baby wipes.

The online blurb described a theory-weighted programme with some have-a-go hands action at the end.

In the flesh, soothing vegetarian music and amber lights made it 2 chromosomes short of a Gentle Touch sex workshop.

We were 16 souls, mostly paired: friends, office workmates, yoga mom and punky daughter- amongst which at least 3 individuals quietly desirous of unleashing lessons learned on a hottie, armed with some vanilla-scented candles and Michael Buble’s Best Hits.

Oh, and not forgetting (though trying to avoid making eye contact with) one peaceful, hand-locked couple a few wheatgrass shots down, on the cusp of asking if Spiritual Lovemaking would be covered before or after lunch.

I could have been partnered with the Keen Bean hellbent on getting his knuckle-fold just so, whilst grappling with premature expression syndrome.

Or the middle-aged Swinger Hopeful in the graphic personality shirt confusing his Eastern European gal pal with What’s My Line? mime artist moves around her shoulder area during Circle Friction.

Lady Luck dealt me instead a well-built Muscovite in a cycling shirt, reassuringly functional in approach, with the look of Putin’s kinder brother.

Our instructor- let’s call her Karen- was an affable Liverpudlian who started every sentence with ‘Obviously’ even having established that none of us knew a massage from a vulnerable Kellogg’s employee.

She sure as eggs wasn’t going to let preparation get in the way of proceedings, taking deep breaths in – looking at her instruction sheet as if at virgin news- before exhaling all the apparently irrelevant info on the out breath, in order to ‘freestyle’.

For friends-and-family casual pummeling tips it’s all about the moves, she affirmed. So sleeves were rolled up within 10 minutes and our clothed orgy was out of the starting blocks.

It’s quite weird laying hands on a stranger you probably gave the evil eye to on the Tube 20 minutes earlier. Weirder still how quickly it becomes normal.

Corny yes, but how many wars would be waged after a summit of back rubbing? Obama leaning into a bit of Merkel shoulder pinching?

Karen made it all look like hand ballet, flowing wrist actions easing supplicant ‘receivers’ into The Land of Grateful Surrender.

Now, I wouldn’t say I was hurting Vlad per se but he wasn’t moaning ‘more more’ either and it mightn’t be a stretch to imagine he was hoping I wasn’t the escort he’d booked for the evening based on my assault of his seated torso.

Thankfully, when he did give feedback he was solicitous for it to contain all the emotion of a shipping forecast- a code to which each of us adhered like George Alagiah (the heady couple excepted, with their all-too-audible whispers of ‘Ooh yeah, do it like that, that’s how I like it. Jesus…’)

When we progressed onto ‘Hands’ it felt like mine and Vlad’s relationship had moved to second base, forearm stroking proving more intimate than neck squeezing, via the slopping on of baby oil.

One student slightly hit the nail on the head by asking, ‘What’s the point of pulling fingers?’ but Karen hammered it down harder, a soft Paul McCartney fresh from a Youtube philosophy tutorial : ‘Basically, it’s just nice to be touched.’

‘Feet’ took it up an even steeper notch, after which my partner (the proverbial last man a few hours prior) started to look like a cocoa-dusted Ryan Gosling, from which the conclusion I’d be romantically drawn to a dog if it could see its way to a bit of light effleurage (with the paddy bit of its paws, question mark)

Feet, though: not for everyone- an oddly shameful body part never allowed wholly to dissociate from Odor Eaters…

The guard of the group is down at this stage.

Some personal information is being divulged behind me and eager Sam is laughing an awful lot, while Vlad and I are relieved to find ourselves walking the tightrope of warmth and coolth without wobbling.

We’ve made some technical improvements in a short amount of time. I’ve told him not to do the thing when he sticks his finger in my Achilles heel tendon; he’s discouraged my karate chops, moving them away from brutality toward punishment.

To be honest, I reckon that our therapeutic foray has the potential to turn into a more full-blooded education without substantial resistance from the majority, given an extra 24 hours in residence and a few carefully chosen refreshments* (*included).

But for the time-being we remember ourselves and there’s only half an hour left…how to close this bite-sized sensory adventure?

With what other than the sublime Indian Head Massage, possibly still illegal in Alabama.

Involving a litany of finger titillation so scrummy it’d be a wonder if a few weren’t left gasping ‘Jurassic Park’, it’s hard to joke down this smorgasbord of sensuality; temple-encircling, scalp tapping, dry shampooing- all there for the taking.

I may have been babbling ‘Keep pulling my hair’ or ‘say something in Russian’ as Karen was bringing us back into the room, back into the room with hand-outs and the offer to spend more tutored Sundays ducking the responsibility of ferrying kids to birthday parties.

A day spent well, no doubt. Its projected legacy beyond the inexpert grappling of those foolish enough to stray within my fervent reach?

The certainty that massage is a truly skilful skill and that even when asked to apply more pressure, you need to keep the best interests of your thumbs at heart.

Unless the person asking is a circumspect Russian with a wide neck; in which case best not to take any chances.

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The Heart of the Matter

Technically, we are all dying. Sometimes we forget this and dedicate ourselves to living. Sometimes we remember and dedicate ourselves to living.

What this tends to mean is getting the most out of life- celebrating the good times, savoring our families, recognising beauty.

It’s all a positive, upward swing kind of thing.

Self-help books advocate grinning in front of the mirror: ‘I’m a success. I deserve the best in life.’

Buddhists try to climb a little further up the tree to transcend our mind-made constructs of misery, dissolve the limiting sense of self, support others to feel deserving of the best in life.

Who, I wonder, is giving a shout-out for pain?

Christian ideology presents redemption through (Jesus’) suffering but essentially this trades sacrifice for the atonement of sins.

In other words, the experience of discomfort endured has worth only for what it is representing or pointing to.

Today, my father enters a hospice.

Hope, the power of the survival instinct, ‘miracles’, miracles: yes- relinquish these and despair takes root. With only an end there can be no beginnings, joy shrinking in on itself like melting plastic.

Yet it seems to me that there is some value- some profound grace- to be glimpsed in the darkest places of human experience, and those places are at birth and at death.

Suffering provides a visceral link between the processes of creation and dissolution so that when I see my mother holding my father’s hand and looking into his eyes I am directly transported to my pre-labour hours.

These are the real ‘here-and-now’ moments when nothing else exists; no escape, no papering over of unpleasantness with pleasure; the facing of an unavoidable truth in real time; a present-tense abiding made possible by dint of nothing more than primal determination and the inhalation/ exhalation of breath.

Whether this pain is physical or emotional is not at the heart of the matter. (The eventual administering of pain-relieving drugs to both myself and my father merely yielded the first sort to the second).

Only the passing of time- and (the important part) one’s fundamental choice to allow that passing of time- will free one up to re-commence with the ‘living’ of life, or else surrender to its passing.

The synergy of a person with this ‘dead-end’ of human experience- this Hobson’s Choice- has a nobility and depth unparalleled by the blissful state. Not ‘no pain, no gain’ but an elemental bloom within pain.

It is the point where we become our essential strength; where we are stripped to the very business of enacting our consciousness, perhaps to our love for another human being; where we connect unambiguously with what we are doing because there is nothing else we can be doing.

So I am drawn to the conclusion that it is nothing less than a privilege to be allowed, even occasionally, to appreciate truly what it is to be human, and to identify that experience as Divine.

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That Jesus Moment

 

Leaking contrition, you enlist the pain of histories

for one unremarkable error:

Say sorry and mean it

*

There’s a right and a wrong way (funny, now that’s clear)

No drawing up the silk in seamless twists

On yourself to reflect the innocent’s sting

*

Yes, unravel the doom but not alone, alone is crude,

exludes an accomplice to smile as they hand you the sponge

to wipe your dirt from their person

*

Denies the gift of grace wrapped in dead skin

The absolving absolution

That Jesus Moment

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At all costs to avoid the deep blue sea of double injury

Whereby one hurts AND laughs

and never learns

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So I’ll meet your play, I’ll take a rake

to the past’s stone surface,

in stereo atonement

*

Its legacy to heed the ego’s violating force

Apology’s first service to shine a light Divine

on the Not Conscious.

*

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The Story Of The Dead Dog

In New York City, in a roomful of girls one Valentine’s night, my throaty friend Heather put down her cocktail and re-lived this, the story of the dead dog.

So me and my friend Shauna used to get into all kindsa crazy trouble and there was this one night in Seattle when she was stayin’ at my place and we go to Queen Anne to this dive bar called Ozzie’s to sing karaoke.

We get to the bar and there’s this sketchy guy in there carryin’ this tiny little dog and Shauna starts chattin’ to him and we’re havin’ drinks and shootin’ the breeze.

Then this guy tells Shauna he’s gonna go get some smokes so she says, Ok, and off he goes with the dog.

Well, he buys the smokes and he puts down the dog to get one out and the next thing you know a taxi clips the corner and takes the fuckin’ dog out.

Then there’s all sortsa shoutin’ and commotion and suddenly this guy’s back in the bar cradlin’ this dog like before only now the dog’s dead and there’s blood runnin’ down the guy’s stark white shirt.

And the guy’s howlin’ and cryin’ and callin’ out for Shauna.

But Shauna’s in the bathroom, so this guy’s standin’ in the middle of the bar with the dog and everyone’s lookin’ at him and he’s howlin’ and it seems to go on for ages and no-one’s takin’ control.

So I say, Dude, I’m sorry for your loss but you need to get the dead chihuaha out of the fuckin’ bar. It’s totally bringin’ down the vibe.

Then Shauna comes outta the bathroom and sees the guy and cries out, Oh my god, Oh my god, What happened to your dog? and there’s more wailin’ and ruccous before another guy steps in.

And I’m thinkin’ maybe he knows the dog guy but instead he walks up to him and slaps him in the face and says, Pull your shit together, man; it’s a douche-bag dog.

So the guy and the dog and some of the people from the bar go outside and I guess Shauna’s feelin’ kinda emotional coz she just lost two dogs of her own so she’s with them and she’s holdin’ the dog and she’s cryin’.

And it’s lookin’ up at her with these wide-open eyes that can’t see any more so she starts tryin’ to close ’em.

But the eyes won’t shut so she’s pushin’ ’em down and they’re poppin’ back up and she’s pushin’ ’em down and they’re poppin’ right back up again.

And it’s really kinda disturbin’ coz she’s callin’ out to the guy, Jesus wants your dog, Jesus wants your dog, Go to Jesus, little doggy, and tryin’ to get the fuckin’ dog’s eyes to close.

Course there’s so much noise that people start gatherin’ ’round and the dude’s still wailin’ and then like from out of a movie or somethin’ two hippy stoner dudes appear from nowhere and come skatin’ down the hill carryin’ bunches of wild flowers.

And they see a crowd of people around this dead dog and so they stop and lay down the flowers and soon everyone’s havin’ a moment’s silence and there’s this little impromptu doggy funeral outside the fuckin’ karaoke bar.

Next up, this police car comes drivin’ by and it sees this group of people and stops to investigate. So the cop hears the story and takes the details and gives Shauna a little yellow HazMat body bag, which she lays the dog in and starts rollin’ up like a frickin’ burrito.

And I’m thinkin’, This is off the scale, man, I swear-to-God, this is one freaky-ass evening, I’m goin’ back inside the bar. So in I go.

Then 10 minutes later this guy comes up to me and says, I think you need to go find your friend. She took off with the dead dog guy and he’s a total tweaker. He hasn’t been to bed for 2 days straight and he just lost his pet so I think you’d better go get her.

So I start freakin’ out coz she doesn’t have a cell and I don’t know where he lives so I’m chasin’ all over tryin’ to find her and eventually she gets on a phone and says, Heather, you have to come get me. I’m in this dude’s apartment and it’s totally messed up.

So I ask her if he’s there and she says, No, and I say, Where is he? and she says he’s gone to buy a beer because they decided to go bury the dog and he needs a beer to bury the dog.

So I jump in a cab and go to the apartment and Shauna was right, the dude is a serious crackhead- McDonalds boxes and food and shit piled high on every surface.

I use my arm to clear a space on the coffee table for the yellow bag and I put the dead dog there and I say to Shauna, We gotta get outta here. And she’s sayin’, No, we can’t, the dude’s not gonna get closure with the chihuaha if we leave. But there’s no way we can stay, I say, If we stay we’re gonna rot. And  if we leave, she says, the dog is gonna rot, for sure.

And I’m tryin’ to talk her round to bailin’ but she’s feelin’ for the dog so there’s only one thing for it, right?

We grab the yellow bag and bolt as fast as we can because we don’t know which way the tweaker guy went and we don’t want him to catch us stealin’ his dead pet.

When we get home I put the yellow bag on my coffee table and we sit and look at it and I tell Shauna I can’t deal any more so we call it a night and we crash.

Then in the morning the sun’s shinin’ and I’m wakin’ up slowly and walkin’ through to the kitchen and Shauna’s on the sofa openin’ her eyes and we both see the yellow bag and look at each other in the same way, like, that was for fuckin’ real?

So I have to get on the phone and tell my work I’m not comin’ in coz I have to handle some personal issues and then I ring ’round Seattle tryin’ to find a restin’ place for the dead dog.

And I find this vet in Eastlake and I take the strange dude’s deceased chihuaha in and I say, This yellow bag was on my friend’s coffee table, then on my coffee table and is now on your coffee table. It contains the body of a dog who passed away last night and now I would really like for you to cremate it.

And she did.

And I went home.

And that, ladies, is the story of the dead dog.

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