At this spa and exercise place I go to in Mexico, I regularly explain that my personalized “Men’s Program” is comprised of three essential components:
“Men’s Nap”, “Men’s’ Bath” and “Men’s Hammock.”
During my latest visit, the oppressive heat – averaging ninety-five degrees in the daytime – knocked two of my beloved “Building Blocks” out of the rotation – “Men’s Bath” and “Men’s Hammock.” As the Kiss Me Kate song reasonably explains:
“It’s Too Darn Hot!” (for those activities.)
Fortunately, on the last day of my stay, the weather cooled down and breezed up, permitting me to close out my pilgrimage with a solid and sublime two-hour-and-twenty-minute “Hammock Experience.”
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (Spoken as soothingly as humanly possible.)
My hammock of preference hangs out beneath a clustering grove located very close to the Lounge, a convenient arrangement, as I spend a lot of my time in the Lounge (while other guests enjoy vigorous classes, such as “Aerobic Dancing From Exotic Lands”), and the Lounge is replete with a plethora small pillows, convenient for me to (temporarily) pilfer, and take out to the hammock to support my head.
Experienced “Hammockers” are privy to the need for pillow-enhanced head-support, the hammockers “in the know” aware that you sometimes need two of them. (I could teach a class in “The Art of the Hammock”; I am not bragging.)
So here’s the set-up. The last night of our week’s stay, there is kind of a banquet. They serve the same food, but with beer and wine, and a dance band assembled from musical ranch employees. Banquet attendees are expected to dress a little nicer. No tuxedos. But no bathing suits either.
The banquet begins at six. As it turns out, I have an hour-long “Neck and Shoulders” massage scheduled for five. This means I will not have time to trek back to my accommodations to change.
And so, I meticulously plan ahead. Before leaving my room, I fill an overnight bag with an appropriate change of clothing – nice shirt, slacks rather than jeans, clean underwear and socks – bringing the overnight bag along to the hammocks. When I’m done hammocking, I simply transport my gear to the Men’s Health Center, enjoy my massage, shower off the eucalyptus massage oil, suit up in my party duds, and it’s “Off to the banquet.”
My strategy seems flawless – the D-Day landing, with party clothes.
It’s “Hammock Time.”
I remove two small pillows from the Lounge and proceed immediately to my destination, a distance of, tops, ten feet. When I arrive, I find the grouping of three hammocks, happily unoccupado. (A lot of people don’t even know about these hammocks. He proprietarily chuckled.)
I set down the pillows, one atop the other, then I turn around, so that the backs of my legs are nudging against the hammock. I then slowly lower myself, stopping when my butt senses the supporting pressure of hammockal fundament.
I swivel around to my left, lifting first one foot and then the other onto the hammock, as I simultaneously descend my back, my head coming to rest on the welcoming comfort of the pillows. I heave one tension-relieving breath, and then…
I am Home.
“Home” – a Guatemalan hammock, arcing around me like an upside-down eyebrow, made of colored fabric sewn together in paralleling four-inch-wide woven strips of blue-green-yellow-red-purple and (because we enjoyed it so much the first time) green.
A sunburst of red twine extends upwards from the ends of the hammock, reaching the support stanchions, two sturdy, tall posts, maybe ten feet apart, where they are then fastened to the posts by two large, powerful knots, the likes of which could easily secure an ocean liner to a dock.
And there I lay, suspended two feet above the ground, my body comfortably supported by the accomplished handiwork of Guatemalan craftspeople.
Hard to believe. A very cautious person was entrusting his wellbeing…
With no thought whatsoever of falling down and going “Boom!” on the bed of scattered pebbles below? Well, you know, it’s me, so that’s not entirely possible. But there’s this definite, relaxation-inducing sense of surrender. I do not know what resting on a cloud would feel like, but my sense is this is different. Unlike when you’re resting on a cloud, which seems structurally insubstantial, lying in a hammock, you can feel your entire bodyweight being supported. (Writer’s Confession: It is a little surreal writing “Unlike when you’re resting on a cloud…”)
Your muscles relax. Your breathing deepens. Your body lets go. You just lay there, gazing up at a sky, a view prettily obstructed by the swaying branches of the breeze-blown trees.
I had brought along a book. After two-hours-and-twenty minutes, I had read two pages. It turns out, reading and “mellow” are an unproductive mix. My mind preferred to just wander.
And then I dozed off.
When I returned to consciousness, it was time for my appointment. I carefully stood up, returned the borrowed pillows to the Lounge, gathered my possessions, and headed off to the Men’s Health Center. I was ready for my massage.
Except I wasn’t.
As I unpacked my banquet attire, arranging the clothing neatly in my Men’s Health Center locker, it suddenly flashed in my mind that I had forgotten to bring along tip money for the massage person. You do not want to stiff a Mexican massage person. Not that they’ll hurt you. It’s just that they already have to get by in Mexico. And then there’s no tip? “Oh, Lord, how have I angered Thee!”
With a little time left before my massage, I race back to my room for the money I had already set aside for this circumstance. I had just forgotten it. Okay? Cut me some slack. I’m on vacation.
In my haste, I could have easily compounded the catastrophe by racing back to my villa without the accompaniment of my room key. Funny. But disastrous. Fortunately, I remembered to remember, courtesy, I most definitely believe, of the focusing clarity resulting form a substantial sojourn in a hammock. I returned with the tip money just in time for my massage.
My restoring hammock meditation did not, however, inure me to all mishaps. Lying on the massage table, I recalled having packed everything I needed for the banquet.
Except my shoes.
I arrived at the party smartly dressed.
But in flip-flops.
I arrived at the party smartly dressed.
But in flip-flops.