Wednesday, April 9, 2014


One thing everyone with, or who lives around someone with, MS sooner or later (often sooner) realizes, is that their sensitivity has gone way, way up.

Sensitivity to... everything.

As one of my doctor's other MS patients told him, the best thing about MS is that it makes you more sensitive to your body. The worst thing about MS is that it makes you more sensitive to your body.

But there's way more to "sensitivity" than just what we're directly wired to, even with bad wiring.

I'm spending time every day, outside and in, or looking over from the back porch, the back garden.

And a lovely place it is, the back garden. But I'm definitely "working my sensitivity" while back out there...

Hallmark tells us when spring happens, on the equinox of course. My kyudo teacher tells me that in the Goode Olde Days in Japan, there were something like 100 or so seasons. Which works out to a new season every four days or so.

And if you actually pay attention to the seasons, and to what natural world you can reach from wherever you are... you'll very quickly see that the Olde Days were right. Season changes all the time. Maybe not the huge "finally, the spring thaw!" big big BIG seasonal changes, but yeah, every four days or so... everything changes.

Well, actually, every DAY everything changes, but I'm not quite there yet. Getting closer, though...

 And what I'm really, really enjoying, is the smell of the air coming off the mountains. My house is at the bottom of a system of hills, and as much as people like going up mountains so they can see ever so much more from that height, looking up the mountain will show you just as much. Or maybe even more.

Sometimes I can smell the creosote coming off the mountain, something that's very prominent the closer you get, or even if you get into or onto the mountain. This smell is a huge part of my childhood /youth memories of golden days spent at Griffith Observatory, watching the "star shows" or, in later years, Laserium.

Ah, but that smell, so many memories are woven into that smell... which I sometimes can catch a whiff of, miles and miles away from the actual mountains that surround the San Gabriel valley.

Laserium is long gone; so are the "star shows." They have a new and amazing projector, in my youth a Zeiss mark 4, but now they're onto a mark 9, which projects so well that if you have a hand lens or other micro-telescope-like thing, you can see projected images better than you can see them with the naked eye. But there's nobody driving the show like they did when they had to do everything by hand, nowadays a computer shows all sorts of cool images but everything's pre-recorded, shows don't change to match whatever's in the night sky (too complicated to do that sort of thing), and cool as the images are... they just don't sing to me the way the "star shows" did from the golden days of my youth. Planetarium seats are WAY better now, but shows aren't to my taste as much as the "by hand" ones were, and although much of the place has been ADA'ed, I think the telescope (dome on the left, in the Laserium photo above) may be closed to me, the last time I was in there I had to walk up several flights of stairs and/or ladders. Which was, believe me, OK, considering what they'd enable you to see. But ... that was then. This is now.

Oh well.

But just sitting in my home's back garden, wheelchair and all, I see and hear and smell things that I never have before. One of my acupuncturist's favorite prescriptions include "get into nature" and "look for something you've never seen before," and that happens to me daily.

I see new buds on my pomegranate tree; every day I see another one. Oh, this tree's gonna be so wonderfully generous.

I see tomatoes flowering, and even tiny tiny tomatoes, just starting. I see new buds on a Greek basil plant. I see very very happy honey bees looking for nectar.

I hear a bird crying at a nest. It's up too high, I can't see what's in it, but whatever it is seems to have upset this poor bird, because she cries very pitifully at the nest. And then she flies away... A woodpecker was very enthusiastic a few weeks ago. It's not there now. Squirrels chatter and pick at the loquats growing in my tree and the neighbors's tree. My cat is clearly very happy with the catnip my Garden Guy planted for her, wanders outside and rubs her face in it very happily. A few days ago a black-and-white cat I'd never seen before (or since) wanders through and invades my cat's catnip. Which did not please my cat at all.

If I feel like it, I pick some lettuce that's growing in the garden. Maybe even add a few herbs.

But no matter what... just breathe. There is a difference about the air coming off the mountains... as my wife calls it, the breath of the mountains.

There's got to be a piece waiting to be written with a title like that... Haven't quite settled on an exact title yet, much less oh yeah, the notes and rests and all that, and music that's ahead of it "in the pipeline" needing--needing--to be written too... but we'll see. A band piece by Joseph Schwantner that I played in college was titled "And the mountains rising nowhere," it's an amazing piece but it's in a very different place than I am right now. But even in Las Vegas, in the middle of the Nevada desert, I can smell the mountains, I can feel the mountains breathe. And if you drive a few minutes north, you can get into an actual Alpine environment. Truly amazing air, there, only a little ways north of Sin City. Photo is from last October... who knows what it might look like, now?

But yes indeed, dear readers: Seasons are changing. Constantly. MS or not: Go outside and breathe. If you're somewhere that's in some way connected to nature, in any form, go outside and breathe today, and the next day, and the next, and the next.

And see how things change.

You'll be amazed.

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