Sunday, May 24, 2015

Colon Powell's Back

I have not experienced rectal bleeding (a common symptom of the Crohn's disease that I was diagnosed with in 2006) since I began to pursue colon hydrotherapy and energy medicine at Advanced Colon Techniques School in Boulder in mid-2012.

Colon Powell is back in action. But, yikes. I haven't written a post since February 2, 2014. Almost 16 months. I can definitely feel it. Every day that I haven't expressed myself in written form made it that much harder to sit down and write something new, inspiring, honest. Because, in all honestly, I felt like total shit and didn't want to jump onto the "misery loves company" bandwagon, at least not via the world wide web. I not only distanced myself from a truly powerful way for me to recount my journey, but I additionally found myself back in many of the same situations as before I originally began my trip towards a healthier state... whatever that means. Anyways, I'm here. And I'd like to commence this post with a little/big quote that I found back towards the beginning of this year.

"To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to always be in no-man's land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again."

To be fully alive -- Thoughts on living an intentional life

Before I do what every good student of literature does (cite the author), I want to tell you that I found these words amongst the useless garbage in the wild world of facebook. I should capitalize facebook--I know--, but I honestly just don't want to. I am feeling, and have been feeling for a long time now, overwhelmed by how much hurtful baggage us humans like to dump on everyone else. And the fact that people are making money of so-called "social networks" like this makes me... well... really irritated. Sad, too. Ok, so... I just found that the quote from the American-born Buddhist author Pema Chödrön was apparently an excerpt from When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Sounds nothing less than your average self-help piece of literature, but I know what happens when one assumes what is behind the periphery: One day, maybe I'll read it and comment more. The only thing I know is that this excerpt absolutely resonates with a concept that has been reinforced many a times throughout my 31 years of existence. From a colonial studies/literary/historical/anthropological perspective, I think of that which Mary Louis Pratt called contact zones. In "Arts of the Contact Zone," Pratt said that these are "spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today." It's what I know as some kind of a point of discomfort. The points in life where I feel most alive. When I see myself and everything around me from a bizarrely crisp point of view... One that almost hurts, but it feels too cool to hurt because I feel so alive. These feelings I have felt in moments of discomfort--when I am "thrown out of the nest"--have guided me, like cardinal points, or compasses help me navigate this crazy-ass, ever-changing world around me. They remind me that I am human, that everything's going to be OK, and that there is nothing in this world that is within my control other that my very own actions and thoughts. (And many of us know exactly that those are hard to control!) Feeling alive, although at ephemeral moments throughout my brief existence, bring me to what I sometimes feel as my real home.

"Home" -- It ain't just for Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros 

As I really want to delve a little bit further into that last line, I 'got's to get literature-y on y'all for a quick second. When I think of home, I oftentimes think of author Susan E. Ramirez' exploration of the Incan concept of (el) cuzco. As you may already know, Cuzco is known as the capital of the Incan empire in modern-day Peru. However, Ramirez is so cool because she explores that Cuzco wasn't a fixed place, as we imagine cities to be: there is no way of fathoming the relocation of New York City to some measly town in upstate New York, or to Los Angeles, or Austin, etc. etc. etc., without it becoming something totally different. Cuzco moved. Cuzco was, according to this perspective, more of a power, an essence, that moved with the individual that boasted that power.

I loved grad school so freaking much because I got to learn about this stuff all day everyday. I'm pissed that academia in America sucks so much that I couldn't find a way to function in it without seriously dying before I published a fucking article. Maybe one day I'll figure it out and go back. Until then, reading colonial and post-colonial literature--especially about the Incas--taught me a lot about life. About what it means to chocar, to crash or collide, with something. About the crazy-ass reactions that humans are capable of having as a response. About the struggle, the search, the longing for home. Germans even have a brilliant word that embodies the hurt that accompanies that longing: Heimweh, something like a longing for a place that isn’t where you are right now. Portuguese has one, too, that expresses a longing for something one never knew: Saudade. NPR was cool enough to even dedicate an Alt.Latino show to the word. The Radio's Felix Contreras said:

"The concept has many definitions, including a melancholy nostalgia for something that perhaps has not even happened. It often carries and assurance that this thing that you feel nostalgic for will never happen. My favorite definition of saudade is by the Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo: 'bem que se padeçe y mal de que se gosta' (a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy).'"

It's what the Grinch talked about when he talked about Christmas when he said "It came without packages, boxes or bags..."

I have no clue yet if any of this makes sense to another human being, as I have yet to write an entire page. But, I've got to keep movin', got to keep goin'... It's time. It's been 16 months!

Life and it's crazy experiences 

I hope that what I am about to write does nothing less than honor an individual and show my sincere gratitude for all that I have learned from her. Energy Medicine Colon Hydrotherapist Madeline Angelus is one cool human being. She's a walking, talking, real-life example of the most thoughtful introspection--and love--in my eyes. I cannot begin to imagine where I would be had I not been recommended to seek her out for colon hydrotherapy back in 2012. Time and time again, Madeline has said, amongst many other powerful, soulful insights, that

"Maybe the journey is not so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."

She's always reminding me that she feels this life might actually be about experiences, rather than getting to these invented places we tell ourselves we are going to get to once we follow the proper protocol. It makes a hell of a lot more sense to me. I have to stop here for a second and admit that, at this point, my post is giving me a little chuckle because it is beginning to feel to me as if I am presenting myself as a person who is driven by quotes. This is not how I perceive myself, per se, but rather that I do think that words have moved me and continue to move me (forward), as they have provided me a sense of commensurability--a common language, or nomenclature--that I may utilize in order to express my feelings and thoughts so that I, in turn, may achieve the affirmation that I believe we all really want from our "communities". Madeline's words that I have quoted (above) very helpfully provide me a way to see my experiences without being totally overwhelmed, to the point of crumbling. I sometimes feel like that when I revert back to old habits of thinking and coping with stressors. For me, these words sum up how I perceive the experiences I have had when thrown from my "nest" (what I may put on the same plane as home), exploring feelings of discomfort and the notion of this nest-home while in the moment, the enlightening perspectives that are (or can be) achieved from these experiences, and longing for a (less painful) way back to the feeling of strength I have achieved in those moments, when I completely lacked any control over anything around me. In those moments, I actually go beyond my norms and lack any desire to control at all, for that matter. I am most convinced that, honestly, my experiences have happened for a reason (yup, I said it, as cheesy and cliche as it may sound): I truly believe I needed to experience many things--including my symptoms of Crohn's disease--in order to slowly begin to break down what it is exactly that was going on within and outside of my body. This helped me discover my only responsibility on the face of this (beautiful) earth: to take care of myself. I have been ridden, burdened with an overwhelming sense of responsibility, commitment even, for others for who-knows-how-long. Too long. Dangerous stuff, I say.

In the past three years (especially in the past 16 months), I have experienced a lot. My body is so strong. I don't even know how to express the gratefulness I feel for the creator(s) behind it's resilience. I thank my lucky stars that I was born to be this strong and that, through colon hydrotherapy and energy medicine (and so many other things), I have been and am still able to do it all. Just to enumerate some of the major happenings that I deem culprit of derailing me from my writing: a 1.5 year sabbatical from grad school and returned to my birthplace (where I learned learned new a new, blue-collar trade, pursued this this sometimes called love, tested my limits with alcohol and tobacco, etc.), achieved a dream--I taught at my alma mater alongside one of the most inspiring professors/mentors/friends I have ever come into contact with--, resigned from my 'dream', as I realized it was just that (a dream), lived in the coolest, hippiest, most beautiful house in Rochester, fled to Germany in further pursuit of some more love (without much more than a dime in my pocket, might I mention), and reluctantly came back to my birthplace (of course, not without a failed, yet admirable attempt to get a work visa from the German Ausländerbehörde), where I ended up getting a most fulfilling coordinating and teaching gig at the coolest non-for-profit known to that dinky, little, sad town. I then found my way back to Boulder (where I returned to continue grad school, became ill again, loudly voiced that my illness my corporal reaction to the ridiculous, unnecessary pressures of that program, left, got a job with the weirdest/most fucked-up bosses to date, became ill again, got fired....) And now... here I am. In the past two weeks, after getting fired, I have filed for unemployment (if only my family knew), (finally) completed my colon hydrotherapy certificate that I began at the end of 2013, and finally realized that I am beyond ready for something new and better.

The wild part of all of this is that I have survived despite the chaos that has occurred outside of and inside of me. Some people die from this stupid crap. Despite being a financially broke, and now jobless, financially indebted master's graduate and PhD candidate in a capitalist society (and living in the center of Boulder, where rents are ever-increasing due to the recently legalized pot in this state), my asshole still isn't bleeding. It is absolutely a miracle. And I haven't taken medication since I began colon hydrotherapy, when I began to heal, in 2012. Before, when I was a financially broke, jobless, financially indebted bachelor's graduate and MA candidate, actual blood poured out of my ass--for four months straight, one time. (Remember I told you in that one post?) Sometimes I wonder if I could have died had I go on the way I was living. That would have been so sad, as I know that I am meant to be here.

I truly feel that I am moving forward in this life. This post isn't the coolest or the most organized one I've ever written, but I know it's a good start to getting back to sharing my experiences as I continue to live with intention as I navigate life after a diagnosis of Crohn's disease.

I thank James Allred for generously inviting me to model in an amazing colon hydrotherapy session this morning. It's awesome to see Advanced Colonic Techniques School stay true to the art of teaching. You have helped me learn how to help myself, James! You're one awesome individual.

I definitely needed to get this shit out. And I apologize for being so crude without warning in this post. Sometimes, there's no room for a filter.