Our week ends tomorrow, and I am writing this yesterday. Other stuff can still happen, but here's what's been happening so far.
It had rained the night before. We are on the morning hike, and I hear, "It's nice today, though." To which I hear the instant response, "It's getting better and better!"
The last voice sounded familiar. It turned out to be mine.
Regular readers know that does not sound like me. "It's getting better and better!" I'm thinking,
"What's going on here? Has the spa turned me upbeat?"
Aside from the incredible landscaping - you know how eskimos have dozen of different ways of distinguishing various types of snow? This place needs a color-differentiating savant who can delineate the virtually uncountable nuances of green - scattered amongst the botanical opulence is an assortment of magnificent statuary, much of it fashioned from polished, black granite.
There is one particular standout that I am required to pass on the way from my room to virtually everywhere else on the property that elicits a personal response bordering on unhealthy infatuation. (Think: A curvaceous, granite-incarnated version of Her.)
I will not be able to deliver an adequate "word picture" for two reasons. One, though I am a decent writer, not privy to a massive vocabulary nor a discerning eye for artistic detail, I am a barely adequate describer. And two, I have been unable to stop and examine the statue in detail, for fear of earning a spreading reputation for statuatorial perversion.
A free and unself-conscious nude, she rests comfortably on the ground, her arms braced in front of her, her supporting right leg bent behind her, her left leg nestling easily atop her right, her arching torso rising like a basking swan, her surging haunches....
Wait a second! Where did that come from? I better stop right there. There could be children reading this.
Let me just say however before moving on that, at each passing, I am unable to proceed without taking a moment to pay appropriate tribute to that beautiful statue. I tip my cap in tribute to the sculptor - who either conjured this magnificent design concept from his imagination, or he is a lucky, lucky man - and to pay equal tribute to the creator of the original prototype.
My favorite activity so far...
WATSU is a variation of massage treatment performed in a pool of ninety-six degree water, on this occasion, by a gifted practitioner named Pete.
It involves lying on your back, supported in his strong, supporting arms, and allowing Pete to gently manipulate your various body parts and extremities, the goal being to relieve tension and increase flexibility. Later in the treatment, an additional element is injected, during which your head, for a maximum of five seconds, is immersed under the water.
Naturally, I was terrified. (Dr. M had had a WATSU treatment earlier that same day, and her review of the experience was decidedly mixed. And she's brave! What does that bode for me?
Before we started, Pete informed me that the key to a successful WATSU experience, is to completely relax. Three reasons not to immediately jumped to mind. I am lying in water. I am going to be forced to go under water. And I am entrusting my wellbeing to a complete stranger named Pete.
I was determined to do it. It was my birthday. And this was my treat. Which, at least, I thought would make a nifty epitaph:
"Man Dies On His Birthday Of A Personally-Selected Treat."
My original immersion triggered a nervous comedy impulse:
"Am I a Christian now?" I inquired.
But then, I surrendered the process and...
Lemme tell you, folks. It was sensational.
Back in the early eighties, the prevailing fad was Sensory Deprivation Tanks, where you floated inside a tube, borne on a couple of inches of salt water. (The treatment fell into disrepute because they did not change the water and people got AIDS from it and died. I believe the procedure has been upgraded since then.)
You think if you're a big-time claustrophobic like I am, you would be terrified, lying inside a closed-in, darkened tube. However, you'd be wrong.
Rather than feeling closed in, you feel instead like you are floating away in an endless expanse of space.
WATSU felt exactly the same way.
It was - and I have never used this word before in over 1500 blog posts -
The "WATSU Experience" left me purified and reborn. Fearing a catastrophe, I had ventured beneath the water and had emerged from that mysterious nether-world untroubled and free! (You haven't lost me. This is going to wear off.)
WATSU turned out to be an indelible birthday-treat adventure. Enhanced by the fact that, when a spa guest who had heard me singing its praises asked me if I planned to do it again, I replied, "I never do anything twice", but most gratefully did not add, "We only have one kid." A decent joke - of the comedy writer reflex variety - but it really is not the way you want to be remembered.
At night, invited professionals come in to give these, mostly, inspirational talks. One night, the speaker's lecture was entitled, "From Aging to Sage-ing." I decided to skip it.
I don't want to hear anybody talking about old age unless they're offering an escape plan.
"It's through that door."
Otherwise, I'll just pass.
There are definite limits to feeling upbeat.