Hitting the Pause Button
By Jeff Huyett
Pausing life for a few minutes can be like hitting pause on a DVD. We step out of the story and can reflect on our place within it. Without a narrative telling us what to feel or think, we can listen to what we hear from within. I routinely ask patients about the way they relax. Often, they tell me that they relax by going to a movie, watching television or reading a book. You can rest your body this way but your mind is still engaged with something exogenous. When do I clear my mind to listen to my body? Are there subtle sensations and discomfort I didn’t notice? When I do stop, become physically relaxed with my mind empty of clutter, how do I feel about myself as a person? What outside stressors in my day-to-day living really matter in the bigger picture of who I am?
This summer I had the opportunity to quit my full-time employment and spend most of my time living at Faerie Camp Destiny. Destiny is the Southern Vermont jewel in the necklace of Faerie Sanctuaries around the globe. The faeries there are building a timberframe and strawbale kitchen. I spend as much time as I can laboring, hanging out, and making music on 166 acres of mountainside woods. My days there are influenced by only a few people. The daily chores of living on a rough commune became the ritual of the place. There is always a little tending to daily food preparation, dish washing, gardening, and water hauling. But in a collective groove these tasks dissipate through the numbers and chores become simple.
At Destiny, my body feels relaxed and typically devoid of any tensions in my neck or my mind. When stressors arise, I am very aware of them. I simply attempt to diffuse them and my body and mind are back to their "baseline" place. Things feel well and right. I can cope with any obstacles in my day or my carpentry work. When I am rested and make music with the faeries, art comes pouring out of me. In sleep, my dreams seem more vivid in sight and sound. I remember them in the morning. Twice this summer I had flying dreams that were so real to me that, when I awoke, I had that woozy feeling of centrifugal force.
In August I started working a few days a week at the queer health center in NYC. I spend two to four days in the city and head back up to Vermont each weekend. The contrast is sometimes startling but very instructive. Drinking coffee before work on the roof of my loft, I look at the view of Manhattan. The vista is breath-taking and gives me such a deep sense of awe first thing in the morning. I get the same open, expansive feeling I have at Destiny. Then, something happens. I become aware of the time and a schedule descends on my self. I tense up as a list of morning accomplishments forms in my head. I need to prepare to leave, get on a subway, call so-and-so, then arrive to work on time and keep on schedule all day. All of the sudden, I'm governed by a sense outside of me that takes my mind out of my body. The expectations of the day seem to compel me from without instead of the desires from within. A sense of irritation begins to bubble within me.
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Owner’s Manual is a regular feature of White Crane. Jeff Huyett is a nurse practitioner in NYC. His clinical work has primarily been in Queer health with a focus on HIV, rectal and transgender care. He is the Radical Faerie Daisy Shaver and is involved with the development of Faerie Camp Destiny Radical Sanctuary in Vermont and can be reached at JeffANP@aol.com