You Come to a Wall...

Many years ago when my friends and I were at the age when most young people develop an interest in the workings of their sub-conscious, we used to give people we met a little psychology test. I think it was Deni who first introduced it to me while we were on our way to the Santa Barbara Bowl in 1969 to see Donovan in concert...

It's no surprise that she would later earn herself degrees in psychology. You probably know it, or some version of it. Embarking on a little guided imagery, one is asked to describe, in detail, one's surroundings, as well as particular objects which supposedly represent certain aspects of the sub-conscious mind:
  1. You are walking through a forest. Describe it.
  2. Are you following a path?
  3. You come to a body of water. Describe it.
  4. How do you cross it?
  5. You find a drinking vessel. Describe it.
  6. What do you do with it?
  7. You come next to a barricade of some sort. Describe it.
  8. How do you get to the other side?
  9. On the other side, you see a dwelling. Describe it.
  10. How do you approach it? Do you enter it?
That's it, basically. I have also been asked to describe myself walking on a beach and another person who's walking toward me. There are many versions of this test. Of course, you can only take it once and you can have no idea beforehand what the questions will be and what they represent.

Anyway, my point is, when I first took the test and came to the part about the barricade, I saw a wall like in the photo above. A tall, mossy, ivy laden brick garden wall, the sort that is quite common in Great Britain, just like in The Secret Garden, one of my favorite books as a child. It was quite tallprobably 9 feetand rather beautiful in the dense, green forest of my mind. I saw neither a beginning nor an end to the wall, but I scanned it for a gate from where I stood. Finding none, I inspected it more carefully, both with my hands and my eyes, and found uneven bricks and chinks in it, and so climbed over rather effortlessly.

As you probably know, or have surmised, the barricade represents life's problems and how we confront them. Over the years I have given this test to many people who have seen everything from a split-rail fence to the Berlin wall topped with razor wire. One person saw only a hedgerow with a wooden stile placed at her disposal. My wall tells me that I view life's problems as tall, but not insurmountable when approached carefully, and put in place long before I arrived. Knowing my life as I do, this could not be more accurate.

One of the barricades I face every day of my life these days is my health. I miss the days (not all that long ago) when I awoke ready to take on the world. And if I wasn't feeling up to snuff, all it took was listening to songs like A Little Is Enough by Pete Townshend, High Life by Stevie Winwood, and With A Little Luck by Paul McCartney & Wings while I got dressed, and putting on the right pair of shoes to set my mood for the day ahead. My best "conquer the world" shoes were a pair of turquoise Converse high-tops, which sounds kind of silly, but is true. When I put on those shoes, I could rule the world! They gave me confidence, optimism, and a bounce in my step.

It takes a whole lot more these days. Anymore, it takes a morning cocktail of prescriptions, vitamins, and supplements, as well as two cups of coffee and at least two hours of waiting for the fog to lift. My newest mental exercise is to remind myself that most of my issues are in my mind more than in my body. It's that being sick and tired of being sick and tired that weighs me down the most, so I give myself a little pep talk: "Just get up and do the things you want to do and you'll feel better." This really works... on some days. Other days not so much, especially if I'm experiencing a lot of fibromyalgia and/or DDD pain and fatigue. On those days I leave the wall and enjoy my forest.

For someone who has always been very active, and who has always possessed an overload of energy, this is difficult, especially this time of year. I look out the window and see all the things I want and need to do: clearing and planting flower beds, setting up the porch for summer, etc.things I could do quite easily a short 10 years ago. But time is relative. Time that feels short when one feels good isn't so short when you feel like crap because life has plunged you prematurely into old age.

Still, I always look carefully for the uneven bricks and chinks, and I always find them, and climb over. It's just that I keep coming upon new walls more frequently than I did in my younger, healthier past.

Guess it's time to buy some new Converse high-tops.