Joy Within Heartbreak and Trauma
I wrote this post weeks ago, but I needed to let it simmer. Given the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the ongoing gun violence and lack of adequate gun control, and the attacks on trans children I feel ready to share it again. If these incidents seem disconnected to you, all of this violence involves toxic masculinity and removing body autonomy from those who are not white cis men. I am not here to trauma dump, but to provide the context in which I am still finding evidence of joy, communal love, and liberation.
The past 2 months have been a blur. In May I visited my family in California, the first time in 4 years. It was filled with so much joy and laughter and FOOD. I ate tacos and Filipino food every day. It just doesn't hit the same on the East Coast. I surprised my sister for her birthday and my family finally got to meet the love of my life in person.
The pandemic started a little over two years ago, but I haven't flown out to LA in four. I love travel, but I hate TSA. If you are reading this and you are trans/non-binary/gender expansive, you know why, #travelingwhiletrans. The flight to LAX was fine. The return flight rapidly descended into a nightmare when my partner and I arrived at our layover at JFK. Our connecting flight had been canceled and we spent the night on the airport floor.
In retrospect there were many comical points to this story, but I am going to skip to a quick summary of the scary part.
The Audacity of a Tree
Every morning I walk my dog through an old mill that has since been repurposed for business and residential spaces. One of the original buildings that still remains is made of chipped and weathered red brick. The windows are cracked green glass with what look like bullet holes. I love watching the space transform through the seasons.
In winter the mill has an industrial, post-apocalyptic charm. Spring and summer reveal a lush, verdant side. Cracks in the brick are populated by screeching songbirds. Trees project out of the building in a defiant, vertical landscape. My guess is that seeds were distributed into the brick via bird droppings or nest building materials.
Wood energy in Chinese medicine is about exploration, creating new pathways, and breaking boundaries. Its emotional correspondence is anger therefore its natural direction is up and out. Wood is spring and youthful energy, hence its association with newness and creativity.
Full of Starlight
Healing is magic. It is the most optimistic calling anyone can answer. In order to heal, you must believe in the possibility of a different reality. You must commit to re-making a piece of the world however small or large. Even a paper cut requires a regeneration of flesh – you remake a part of YOU. The alchemy of sunshine into plants into food is miraculous. Actual starlight makes its way into our bodies to become cells, tissues, and organs. It is a photon that has traveled light years to fuse with you.
When I am the one on the treatment table, I look for traces of wonder in my practitioner. Do they perceive me as an infinite being made of stars or as a problem to be fixed? Are they here for my new world making or are we trapped in preordained possibilities? Technical skills and professionalism alone are not enough for true transformation...
My blog on decolonizing medicine