Nanima: Existential Sticking Point

Here is the next part of Nanima.

Poisonous Path

The winter solstice was turning into a relatively cheery, bright day. Cold? Yes. Miserable? Not at all. Maliyan was enjoying the passing paddocks, stock, sky, and clouds as she drove to the nearest large country town, Thubbo. After doing her jobs, she decided to make use of the Chinese Massage Centre because Nanima didn’t have one. Of all the wonderful things the Chinese bring to Australia, their massage centres were top of Maliyan’s list—cheap, quick, and effective.

There was a steady stream of new staff at the Centre. Maliyan assumed they were friends and relatives of the owners on working holidays. Invariably, their English consisted of hello, how long, pressure okay? She didn’t care about their English. If they apologised for it, she would say, “No need. You have a second language. I don’t.” Not that they understood what she was saying. 

She did care about how proficient they were. She could tell as soon as they put their hands on her shoulders. It was a two-second transfer of information. Occasionally, she did a little experiment to see if she could guess by sight what they would be like. She couldn’t. The best ones were a mixture of care, knowledge, intuition, and that healing quality some practitioners have in their hands. 

Her response today was the one reserved for the best of the best. She relaxed, closed her eyes, and trustingly handed her body to the masseur. He ran his hand down her spine, straight to the problematic spot.

“Poison,” he said.

At least, that’s what Maliyan thought he said. It was hard to tell, and there was no point trying to discuss it with him.

When Maliyan stood up, she felt quite sick instead of fantastic. On the forty-minute drive back to Nanima, it did indeed seem that low-grade poison had been released into her body. Where else could it go? It had to find a path out of her system. That’s when the dreams started.

Rex the Ex

Although Maliyan was out for the count of dancing all winter, she was dancing in her dreams. She had been having a recurring dream of an argument one year into her last dancing partnership. The cause of the argument was minor—of no particular significance—but the outcome was major. It had existential consequences as well as emotional ones. Existentially significant events hold powerful long-term energy and become sticking points until they are understood and rectified.

It was the first really stupid thing that Rex, Maliyan’s ex-dance partner, did. It was also the best thing he ever did. He had been on yearlong good behaviour, which showed that the relationship was important enough to him to try and make a good impression. Then, Maliyan pulled him up on something he did which hurt her. Based on his usual behaviour, she assumed he would apologise, and the matter would be fixed and forgotten. To her surprise, his response did not diminish the ignorance or arrogance of his actions. It exacerbated them. He went on and on about why everything he did was so correct and justified. It was completely irrational. He also became insulting and offensive. Maliyan was so shocked and saddened by his response that she removed herself from the conversation with a one-word reply and was ready to remove herself from the relationship.

Happily, by the next day, Rex had reconsidered his position. He was apologetic, humble, affectionate, and expressed his sincere gratitude for her—all a winning approach. If he continued on this path, the following years would have been a different story. He came close to the winning attitude on other occasions, but they were few and far between, becoming fewer and farther as time progressed.  

Maliyan opened her eyes and saw the grey hint of sunrise before the sun gets a proper foothold. She thought about the instinctiveness of the healing process, which knows precisely which event to return to in order to heal effectively. It knows which situations hold the most karma.

Go back to that first argument and that first response, Maliyan said to Rex through the eons of space and time. That’s where you went wrong. That’s where you went right. If you want to get better, you have to go back there.

She wasn’t sure that he did want to get better. There was a high chance that he felt nothing particularly needed improving. Yet, when she saw the photos of him that occasionally came up on social media, she invariably saw eyes in pain. If not sad, they were defiant. Or drunk. Rarely were they relaxed and happy. 

Ignorance and arrogance can so easily be changed by two small changes of heart and mind—willingness to grow and humility—yet, they are so preciously and ridiculously cherished. And for what? Eyes that betray unhappiness and get stuck in the depths of existential despair.

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