“As you move towards a dream, the dream moves towards you”~Julia Cameron.
I live an overcommitted life. Most of the commitments are of my own making, others are a product of a society which requires payment for goods, and thus the need to work for a living. A few weekends ago one of my commitments took me to Jamaica for the weekend, to attend a function at the high school I went to in the heart of rural Jamaica. Whenever I visit Jamaica I am fortunate to be able to stay with my best friend of over 45 years. Her home is one of my favorite retreats, nestled in the hillside within the folds of the beautiful Blue Mountains.
Another of my commitments is school. I am on this journey of discovery, still finding things to learn about health and the human experience. In one class I was given an assignment to go on a date with myself. That may sound strange, but it is the recommendation of the author Julia Cameron (quoted above) that in order to create, you have to take time to play. She has a list of possible things to do to help to recharge your creative juices. When I looked at the list of possible artist’s dates, I realized that some of the things I do when I visit Jamaica are included on that list. I sit on the verandah and absorb the sights, the smells and the sounds of rural Jamaica. I go for walks and take photographs of nature. I compose poetry as I walk.
I had to find something different to do if I was to complete my assignment honestly. And I was fortunate to experience a special treat, a hydrotherapy massage up in Irish Town, even higher up in the Blue Mountains. At the Strawberry Hill Spa, they offer various kinds of massages. I have had a hot stone massage in the past, but my girlfriend had told me wonderful things about the jets of warm water which are used to enhance the massage, and I decided to try it.
Wrapped only in a toweling robe I entered the ‘wet room’, a clean austere room with a massage table in the center. The room looks out on the verdant foliage and a view of hills beyond. Mist drifted around outside, along with an occasional light sprinkle of rain. A cool breeze blew in through the window. The massage began with a body scrub of coffee beans. These were washed off with a warm forceful jet of water. Seven nozzles directly above streamed water down in fine needles.
My mind drifted as I underwent these interesting sensations. I was in the rain, a warm rain, the fine needles stinging but invigorating. I was strapped to the mast of a ship in a storm, but a warm storm. As the jets of water pushed under my midsection I had the urge to laugh. It was not that they tickled; just that it was a genuinely funny feeling!
By the end of the massage I felt boneless, de-stressed, in a very mellow zone. All of the routine of my everyday life was washed away. After I reassembled my body into a working model, dressed and decent once more, I wandered around the grounds, taking photographs, soaking in the scenery, watching doctor birds zip around the flowers, and I gave thanks for being able to visit such a beautiful place.
But the day was not over. We drove even higher up into the clouds; we left the sunshine behind and entered fog, grey dampness limiting visibility. The road deteriorated as we climbed around corners, dodging potholes and scattered rocks. In a café at the Gap (Hardwar Gap, a cleft in the mountains that wanders down to the north coast) we sipped Blue Mountain coffee and had a view of nothing, the building enshrouded in dripping fog.
Jamaica has a way of restoring the soul; reenergizing the spirit; reminding you that every moment can be beautiful when you pay attention and appreciate the world around you. I completed my assignment with a few simple lines of poetry:
Haiku in the Hills
Roosters crow, birds chirp,
Barking dogs provide the harmony
Early dawn chorus.
Blue Mountain Coffee;
Divine aroma tickling senses
Morning creeping in.
Clouds drift and curl over green ridges
Goats watch you walk by.
We may not be able to run away to Jamaica when we need to be renewed. If you live in South Florida, the Everglades are in our back yard: serene sawgrass; sneaky alligators; a diversity of birds and insects waiting to be appreciated. Tropical gardens are everywhere, and if it is the sights and sounds of the ocean that nurture you, you have no excuse. Make that connection with the natural world and escape for a moment from the bills and treadmills. Life is too short to miss opportunities for reflection and appreciation.
On the Friday morning, I hope that you are not under the weather, or struggling to find perspective. May you have a relaxing weekend, with time to treat yourself well.
One Love Family!