A Voice in the NELA Wilderness
by Christopher Nyerges
It was getting dark at the Highland Park Farmers Market and my back was hurting. So I walked over to the Shiatsu booth for a massage.
Chiyoki, the massage therapist, had me lie down on the massage table and I felt some relief just by lying down. Then she went to work on my scalp, back and arms – it was simultaneously painful and enlightening, physical and mental. As Chiyoki kneaded my back and twisted my arms, I entered a twilight-zone and my mind filled with vivid childhood memories.
I was sitting in the kitchen late at night with my mother talking about the things we used to talk about when everyone else was asleep. “How can God have had no beginning?” I would ask. “How can the Pope be infallible?” We would discuss these matters and she would often say I should ask the priest. But later, when word got back to her that I was debating the priest, she would say, “Who do you think you are, talking back to the priest?” It was a pleasant memory, whether we agreed or not, since we could sit there and talk late into the night.
From the next booth, incense wafted over me, triggering other memories – of being an altar boy at the Catholic church and getting up early to serve Mass. Even in those days, I thought long and hard about spiritual matters and was once serious about going into the priesthood, but something along the way disillusioned me.
As Chiyoki pulled each arm into the middle of my back, I had to choose between screaming and relaxing into the pain. I relaxed and the relaxation seemed to combine with the sound of the Vera Cruz singers at Avenue 58 and Marmion Way – and there I was, climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, standing at the top as I did in my travels to Mexico in1974, full of wonder. Past, present, future; life and death; parents and families; personal choices and genetic destiny – all aspects of the same reality: “What was I destined to do?” I thought at the top of the pyramid.
I was experiencing a sort of mental free-fall, an internal Fellini movie, highlights of memorable conversations, meetings and endings. Then, Chiyoki said, “OK, all done.”
I walked back into the farmer’s market, realizing once again the illusion of time and the reality that nothing matters in and of itself; what truly matters is how we approach what we do and whether or not we learn from life.
Christopher Nyerges can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041 or at www.ChristopherNyerges.com.