Last week I wrote about how I developed a sense of extreme caution around western medicine. This week I'd like to talk about the years I spent as a potter in New Mexico, and how those years actually proved useful to me as an acupuncturist.
The first time I drove west, it was to visit Bob, whose wife had just died at an early age. They had moved to New Mexico maybe 6 months prior, and so they hadn't made many friends. She and I had been friends back in New York, and so my visit heralded the opportunity for both Bob and me to share our loss
and grieve together. I wound up staying for several weeks, instead of the 5 days I had originally planned on. By the time I went back to New York, it was clear that Bob and I shared more than our grief. We called each other almost daily, and wrote long letters several times a week. Six months later I packed up my things and moved to New Mexico.
There was a building on the property which I converted into my pottery studio, and with the help of some locals who poured a cement slab for me, welded some metal framing and connected the gas lines and burners, I built a kiln in our side yard. To this day I cannot believe that I did that, because the plans I had for a kiln were for one which was much larger than the one I built. Somehow I figured out how to shrink those plans and make it work. Don't ask me how I did that - I couldn't tell you. Maybe it was the pot I smoked at the time?
Anyway, my life in New Mexico was a life surrounded by artists and scientists. Bob had been the editor of Physics Today, and so was connected to many scientists at Los Alamos. I formed friendships with potters, stained glass artists, jewelers and musicians - all living in the mountains east of Albuquerque. Every insomniac on the mountain would show up at our house in the middle of the night (Bob was a night owl) and play chess, or the game of Go with Bob. I learned to ski and bake bread. I had my first chiropractic adjustment and my first massage, and loved both.
It was my massage therapist who suggested I go to her acupuncturist. My cycle was wacky and she said he could help. Acupuncture was definitely not in the news or in the movies in those days, and so I had no idea what to expect. Knitting needles? (But she said it didn't hurt, so that couldn't be it....) I was so pleasantly surprised by the whole experience that I went back for a second treatment. By the end of that treatment, I sat up and asked "How can I learn this?" "You can't". Huh? How could that be? "From what I know about what's out there, vs. what my teacher taught me, I can't recommend that you study with anyone else, and right now he's not teaching. But he probably will again. It's in his blood." That was in February of 1986.
Long story short - he had moved to San Diego by the time I heard about him. By that summer, I received a catalogue and an application for a school he was starting in San Diego. Bob was in favor of me studying, and supported me learning a profession. (Clay dust and hauling thousands of pounds of clay around were beginning to wear on me.) And so in September of 1986 I drove my Honda out to San Diego to begin studying eastern medicine with Sensei Nakazono. With years of developing "eyes in my fingertips", I found the palpation part of medicine to be easy. I could feel the blockages of energy in the body as well as in the pulses. My heart began living a dual life -- part of me will always "live" in New Mexico. And the other part is happy to be working at something which helps so many people not only regain their sense of health and wellbeing, but also helps to keep them living at optimum levels. The opportunities for me to practice this medicine just fell into place in San Diego, and so I stayed. I can't complain.....there are far worse places to live!
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Oh - and I thought I had scheduled this to be posted on Friday. Apparently I need to learn more about how to schedule my posts!