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This morning, a preacher proclaimed on AM radio, “Change is inevitable. At times, Life demands it.”

His words seared themselves upon my awareness and blocked out the remainder of his text. Yes, I mused, he was speaking to me. I blinked hard, pulled myself up in my armchair, and flipped off the radio. His use of the verb, demand, stung where it needed to sting and left a gaping hole: Within, writhed glistening snakes of resistance that leered at me.

So wedded to my daily self-care routine for months, I could not imagine more diminishment that would impinge upon my functioning. That occurred with yesterday’s bout of food poisoning and the experience of a new level of sinking weakness. Slowly introducing soft foods has helped, somewhat.

But the power of the preacher’s words also caved in my denial of weight loss and daily walks and use of the NuStep at the YMCA. I thought I could fix these changes by eating bowls of ice cream at bedtime; it had worked in 1982 and 2012—No matter that sugars and dairy had triggered joint inflammations.

So it’s all about accepting the unacceptable: the physical death of my body. The preacher’s words, “Life demands it.” still goads this process over which I have no control. Resistance is futile. The only way out is through each twenty-four hours allotted me by God’s will. I’ve no other recourse. It is working …

At 7:10 A. M., I awoke with this shocking dream:

I’m alone, watching a horrifying scene: a bald nude unconscious man, with pasty skin, lays on the ground surrounded by enemies, their steel-toed boots kicking him. One of them covered his privates with a rag when a cameraman came by and began taping. 

This dream from the collective unconscious still shivers my innards—more visceral than accounts of Nazi and Soviet torture that I’ve studied over the years. Even the morning spent at Germany’s Dachau concentration camp was tamed by the sense of it being a tourist attraction, with informative signage.

Stunned, I still shudder. Long ago, I learned that the Dreamer tells the truth: hatred, anger, and penchant to retaliate—even with violence—behaviors I would never own in the conscious world, hide within the shadow of my psyche.

But such behaviors come with being human. Following the collapse of inner restraints, instinctual madness zings through dripping caves like bats: their mayhem terrifies. We all have breaking points, and I have mine, whether expressed or not.

The concentrated negative/evil energies, all masculine, also suggest the collapse of my own, in the face of my mortality, given the minuscule increase in my symptoms, from month to month. No longer is it appropriate to remain passive, unconscious like the victim. I am still breathing and the Twelve Steps of CPA are still to be practiced.

The antidote to this insanity is found in Step One: humble acceptance of my powerlessness and the acceptance of the unacceptable; then on to the cleansing and forgiving Steps, with Higher Power’s release of noxious energies and restoration to wholeness, until the next time.

It takes daily practice…

He was fussing for something, his dark eyes fired with desperation. He wanted something, badly, this very moment. He’d just woken from his nap. At intervals, his lips struggled with the semblance of a word, intelligible to him, but not to his mother kneeling next to him. “But!” it sounded like; then, “Chip!” Tension mounted between them. More sounds came from pursed lips, and more fussing and jiggling his bare feet on the kitchen floor.

To break the impasse, the mother placed her fist in her opened hand, their agreed-upon gesture for help. Immediately, the toddler understood, returned the gesture, and giggled; then, ran for his Sippy cup on the chair. He needed a drink. More giggles and hugging enlarged both worlds as she watched him suck on the plastic straw. His efforts to make speech rather than point were not lost on her. He was learning.

This anecdote reveals the difficulty of acquiring words and stringing them together in meaningful sentences to get our needs met—an ongoing task between the developing child and his parents. 

Yet, language is a living exchange among peoples and demands consciousness for accuracy. With more words coined to accommodate new experiences, this ongoing task continues throughout life. More than ever, relevance in speech and the printed word is urgent.

Such is the ideal to which I hold fast, despite the jargon, around me, that passes for communication and seeds global exchanges with confusion.

Returning to heart-solitude and listening deeply for the gift of words can warm the frigid condition of our language. Real intimacy is still possible.

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