“Juan was killed for wearing his father’s boots, and his father died from the same fate, by the boots of Juan’s grandfather.”
Jorge is relaying this story to me in uncomfortably close proximity. I feel his breath on my face as he holds my hands, challenging me with constant eye contact that I frequently avert.
“Juan’s family was poor. For generations they tended crops, but over time the soil became infertile and the harvests meager. Juan never met his grandfather, but was told that he died from a venemous snake bite while swathing corn. On the day Juan buried his father, he sat at the grave site, reflecting on the land that had belonged to his family for so long. Memories of himself as a child growing up on this land filled his mind.”
One of Jorge’s hands becomes a vice grip, clamping the space between my thumb and forefinger, making me feel nauseous, but I let him continue.
“Juan then began to reflect upon his own boy, still just a child, and he wondered about the path that lay before his son. After much time passed, he concluded that he must step into his father’s boots and continue farming the land. Tired and with heavy heart, he went back to work. The next morning he was found dead in the field.”
As I’m attempting to make sense of the story, Jorge abandons it. He reaches for a small bottle filled with fragrant oil and rubs it on my forehead. As our session moves along, he touches me in odd places; my underarms and the bone between my breasts. He pushes so hard I start to feel hot and sweaty. He asks me if it hurts, I nod yes. “Then why don’t you scream?”
I came to this medicine man to get profound insight about my life. I hoped to receive a message from the etherial realm, telling me of the immediate greatness I’m to receive, along with a showering of blessings that will surpass all my expectations, as well as an instant cure for all that ails me from the past to the present moment. I want a miracle, a transformation into the fantasy version of myself. But, after more than an hour of ritual motions, smoke and oil, pushing pressure points, examining my eyes and tongue, checking my pulse, giving diet advice, tapping my spine, reading my palm, he says, “Why are you here?”
I don’t know.
He must sense my longing, but I mean, doesn’t everyone who visits a Shaman want answers to life’s biggest questions? or a healing? or the abolishment of suffering? He says, “You can search this entire world and you will never find what you are looking for.” “Everything is in here,” he says, poking me again on my already bruised breast bone.
That’s it? I surrendered everything I know for a clique phrase? I’ve been duped, not just by the brujo, but by life. I guess it’s something the gods would call “a cosmic joke” – not the funny kind – the cruel, mean-spirited kind. When I set out on this journey I thought I’d received a gift, but now I see the box is empty. I’ve developed a headache, and we both know the session’s over. As I get up to leave he asks if I want to know the message of Juan’s story.
“The grandfather died from a poinsonous snake bite, Juan’s father inherited the boots, wore them and died, the boots then became Juan’s, which he wore and then died.”
“None of it would have happened if they had pulled the fangs from the boots. Do you think your destiny is predetermined? Pull out the fangs.”
I’m half lost, half lunatic. It’s my heritage. A personality test I did reflects that “sometimes I look at people and society with envy, yet I’m too invested in being different to mold”. I’m destined to live a lonely, isolated life. Anguish has been with me since birth. Venom doesn’t run through my blood; it’s in my DNA. Being unworthy and unlovable is as inescapable as my eye color.
So to walk the earth in pursuit of happiness is what the gods must find so damn amusing. And, for me to take a leap of faith, well that’s just pure entertainment.
god 1: awww, look, look at that girl, trying so hard to become confident and self-assured, ahh-hahh, simple thing, she even has an inkling of an idea that…that her dreams will come true, ohhh my goodness, isn’t that something?
From age 3-5 I had the same imaginary friends. My grade one teacher expressed concern because I was so withdrawn. Thoughout my school years I was a chronic daydreamer. In my life I’ve spent copious amounts of time alone – alone in my fanstasy world, and in that world many things occur: I’m an actor, rockstar, painter, dancer, photographer, president of my own NGO, cafe owner. I do yoga and travel the world. I have a soul connection to a loving partner and so much money that I can just give it away. I help people and animals and make the world a better place. I’m smiling, beautiful. Radiant.
A few years ago I was beckoned by another friend.
You came into my life so sweet and unexpected, put flowers on the table, the fragrance filled my home, we drank wine and danced in my living room. With you I was divine.
And, while I had this presence in my life, I did things – made choices and decisions, closed doors and burned bridges, hugged my kids, then took a flight to the land of my perfect life of answered prayers. Everything seemed possible. Real. It was my time to shine and I was fearless.
god 2: What’s going on down there?
god 1: Well, she’s flying on a wing and prayer, darling. It’s cute don’t you think?
god 2: No. She’s forgeting who’s in control.
god 1: Relax dear, none of this is her doing. I just threw her a bone. I don’t know why I get bored.
god 2: It doesn’t matter, but the fool is happy now. Make it stop.
As it went, when I landed there was no one there to greet me. Something’s gone wrong, I don’t understand.. Everyone was speaking another language and I couldn’t read the signs. I tried to walk with purpose, as if I knew where I was and what I was doing. I walked the entire airport, looking for my friend, and hoping someone would see that I needed assistance and offer to help. No one looked my way. I stood in the crowded passageway, unnoticed. I walked to the bathroom to see if I was still there. A reflection stared back at me, but I didn’t recognize that person. I backed into a bathroom stall and locked the door. My body siezed and I started to suffocate.
Aren’t you scared? Yes. Then why don’t you scream?
I wanted to, I wanted to cry out, but I knew that just as in a dream when I scream, no one will hear.
Jorge tells a good tale, but even if I could pull out those proverbial fangs he spoke of, the open wounds would become infected so that I’m re-poisoned. My friend is gone and I haven’t felt its presence since those days. Though something tells me it didn’t leave of its own accord. All I know is it understood the depth of my longing, and while in its company I gave way to a notion that I could achieve…anything.
You took me from the glass to the open sea, I swam with the whales, they tossed me into the air where mist and sunbeams collided, glimmering all the daylight sky, from up there I witnessed the vastness of the earth below, in all its glory, and the feeling was that of immeasurable joy.
A few have said they’re glad my feet have touched down, but those words hold no merit. I say they should turn their attention go back to their t.v. or shoe collection. They no nothing of my heart, and should my dear friend ever return, I will welcome it with open arms. It would be as if we never parted. We will move to a cabin in the woods. By day we will take long morning walks in the forest, soaking in all of nature’s magnificence. We’ll swing in hammocks in the afternoon sun. In the evenings, we’ll arrange cushions by the fireplace to rest with sound of crackling wood. On sunny days we’ll feed the birds and take photographs. On rainy afternoons we’ll stay in to read and write poetry, while I pour tea and serve ginger cake.