This week, the summer backed off a bit to let us have a little more Spring. I had decided it was about time to change the sheets on my bed to the slick, cool sheets that can be a bit uncomfortable when you first get under them on a cool night. Your body heat has to warm them up, so you roll around trying to drum up some body heat. We’re still using the T-shirt sheets, thankfully, because the rain came, bringing a front down from the north to get us back into the prototypical 60s of Spring.
This week has felt like a daze to me, as is often the case in weeks of perpetual overcast. Something about the gray skies just makes everything run together. It’s not like it feels like it’s going fast in the moment, but you get to Friday and wonder what happened of consequence for you to remember.
Allyson and I have had some pretty poor eating habits over the past several weeks, and I was beginning to push the boundaries of the weight range I’m comfortable keeping, so we decided to go through a 3-day cleanse for our digestive systems. We took on a diet of smoothies and probiotics to reset our systems back to cravings more centered on vegetables and organic foods rather than grease and processed meats.
A diet like this, even for three days, is challenging if you’ve been eating something drastically different. As I got further into the diet, I began to treat it as a fast, in hopes of gaining some sort of spiritual discipline from the exercise. I did this also, because I knew if I didn’t get my mind and spirit on board with what I was doing to my body physically, I would almost certainly find myself popping some popcorn, slathering it with butter and taking a “break,” meaning going back to my habits from last week.
The diet along with the conveniently timed changed in air pressure gave me several headaches throughout the week. I’ve dealt with migraine like headaches my whole life. It will start out as this annoying pain, then steadily get worse and worse. It is like parts of my brain swell to a point where they are trying to push out of my skull, and my skull unfortunately is not that flexible. I get where any sound or movement causes pain, any concentration or need to explain something makes my head hurt worse, and if it gets bad enough I puke everything out of my stomach, sometimes continuing even after everything is gone. Over the years, I’ve determined a few causes for this: (1) if I don’t eat for a long time then do something strenuous without proper breaks, (2) air pressure changes that have to do with fronts coming in and raising or dropping the temperature drastically.
I am obviously not a big fan of these headaches, but I can generally keep them under control if I catch them fast enough and don’t just try to ignore them. The biggest problems I encounter are the times I feel the need to just push on through. Those are the times you’re most likely to find my hugging a toilet bowl in a bathroom stall. I remember several separate occasions in Memphis visiting my good friends, Mark, Randall, and Steven in Memphis when I was in college and coming down with an awful headache. They must have thought I had some serious terminal problem. I remember one occasion where we were all at their home church, Raleigh UMC, and I got a terrible headache and had to go lay day in their parlor where they kept their fancy chairs. It was a very dark room, which was nice, and no one went there, which was also nice. I had to get up periodically and run to the bathroom to puke, and I remember once, Steven came in to try to offer some sort of comfort or help, realizing I was in agony. I said, “I want you to go find a gun, and shoot me in the head.” The pain in my head had gotten so bad, that I just wanted to hit myself in the head, to pummel it, the way you’d scratch a really annoying itch. I was to the point of seeking violence for myself I was hurting so bad.
Then, after sleeping for a time, it was all gone, and I was back to normal. It’s strange how in the throes of discomfort, it seems like it will never get better. It’s a distortion that is so uncomfortable it blinds us to see what lies beyond. I sit now in the weekend with mild temperatures and sunny skies, feeling much healthier and I’m glad this front came through—I’m glad I spent a few days eating only blended fruits and vegetables.
On Friday, after going back to regular food—I made some kale chips and ate a few salads with cheese (which tasted amazing), then went out to the wilderness. Along the way, I noticed the fields covered in yellow. It is the plant that’s likely a weed, but for the next
little bit, it is the brightest yellow. In one field, I saw this tan horse with dark legs prancing alone in this field of bright yellow. It looked like a postcard. I wanted to stop my car and just look at it, so I might keep it in my mind for a while, not even knowing for sure why.
I went out into the woods, found a black oak on a hillside, and tossed a rope into it. I climbed about 30 feet high, harnessed to one of its strong, upper branches. The wind was blowing and I could see its top branches waving. I felt it in the trunk of the tree, gently rocking me. I put my hands on the bark and thought about how this strong solid thing I was tied to is alive like I am. I came down from the tree and looked up where I had just stood in the crook of a branch, knowing I might be the only human to ever know what it looks like and feels like to stand right there. I smelled like tree for the rest of the day, and it felt like an honor.
Yes, we’re in this time of shifts and changes. They will certainly take us to uncomfortable painful places. But there is this hope inside me that for every one of those places, there will be a time we wake up and stare out the door, seeing that something has passed, something is different, something is new. I pray then that I will have the strength and courage to go out into that new day and breathe it into my lungs until it becomes me and I become it.