On Saturday, March 10th, the day of the heart attack, a subtle psychological shift occurred within me. Within hours of the event I seemed to have lost interest in most things that previously held my interest and attention. I’d never, before the attack and placement of two stents, experienced what others referred to as depression. I’d certainly experienced periodic and appropriate sadness, anger, fatigue, confusion, and many combinations of them all at the same time. I’d certainly experienced events which warranted a, “well that’s depressing” response. However I’d never before felt this lack of interest; lack concern; this state of blah. Was it do to the new drugs in my body? Was it somehow caused by the event? Is this normal post heart attack; post angioplasty; post stent placement? I asked around and apparently the answers were, “yes, yes and yes.”
The only things that seemed to hold my interest were things like: stop smoking; diet; count calories in and calories out; achieve 30 – 60 minutes of – 96 to 130 BPM heart rate - aerobic exercise per day; lose 40 lbs; find the right shoes, and get that other nordic trekking pole from Tanya, to prevent the excruciating knee pain I’m experiencing while walking; discover Silver Sneakers program at the YMCA. Though even these interests did not undo the blahs. I’d find myself weeping for no reason whatsoever. Concentration on anything continued to be quite difficult. The habit of photography continued – though joylessly.
The blahs (which I still hesitate to call depression) continued right up until Tuesday afternoon, June 12th; when I felt “joy” again for the first time in 3 months; almost to the day. I rode my bike 5 miles, against a strong 15 – 20 mph west wind, to the YMCA. I did the 45 minutes of Silver Sneaker Yoga Stretching; just as I had done many times over the previous months. I stepped on the weight balance in the Y’s locker room and smiled at having lost 17 pounds. I took a shower. Dressed. Walked out to my bicycle. Put my bags in the panniers. Unlocked the cable. Straddled the frame and consciously thought, “wow! I actually feel normal. What a beautiful day! I actually FEEL the joy of being alive. When did this happen? Just now?” And it was not just a fleeting thought or emotion; it felt deep, real – a sort of returning.
The ride home against the now North West winds felt physically difficult yet continued to FEEL psychologically joyful. As I turned East and crossed the Milwaukee River bridge on Mequon Road, now with the wind at my back, I noticed this turtle sunning itself on the rock. How warm that must feel! Wish I had something longer than a 28 mm with me — oh well. Hah! Turtle Medicine: a powerful totem for protection as withdrawing into it’s shell is an amazing self-defense mechanism. The turtle has few predators, which gives it an innocent energy. This also increases its lifespan, and so holds the symbolic meaning for longevity in many cultures. Animal symbolism of the turtle includes: Order; Creation; Patience; Strength; Stability; Longevity; Innocence; Endurance; Protection. The message I choose to entertain — I’d spent the last 3 months in “a shell” regrouping. Now, today, this afternoon, I stuck my head out and looked around from a warm sunny rock in the middle of the river of life — with what felt like much greater interest. Will it last. Has the “depression” left? Forever? Maybe so. No blahs on Wednesday. No blahs today — even though I managed to throw my back out last evening — I continue to smile through the pain and stiffness.
(click photograph for larger view)
Turtle: nurturer, protector, mother energy
Turtle is at home anywhere because it carries its home on its back. It does not become attached to places, for it is free to search for new opportunities wherever they may be found. When they sense danger, or are in uncomfortable and insecure settings, they withdraw into their shell, and are protected. If you have Turtle medicine, you value both the power of the earth, the waters of the earth, and the magic of the heavens, for Turtle symbolizes both the grounding quality of earth energy, and the magic of the mystical. Using Turtle energy can help you achieve real balance in your life and your spirit so that you don’t get “stuck in the mud.” Turtle’s medicine includes a connection with the center, navigation skills, patience, self-boundaries, respecting the boundaries of others, developing new ideas, psychically protecting oneself, self-reliance, tenacity, and non-violent defense.
Spider: Creatrix, web spinner
Spiders are very delicate creatures that play an important role in the myths and lore of many peoples as the teacher of balance between the past and future, the physical and spiritual. To the Native Americans, Spider is Grandmother, the link to the past and future. In India it’s associated with Maya, the weaver of illusions. With its gentle strength, Spider spins together the threads of life with intricate webs. Spider knows that the past affects the future and vise versa. It calls us to make use of our creativity and weave our dreams into our destiny.
For many Native Americans, “spider woman” stories are important creation mythologies. One of the common feature of those are wisdom symbolized with spiders’ webs (for example, she taught the human how to weave). Also generally accepted are the ideas that her “thread” connects the human world and the world of spirits or the “above world” and the “below world”. Spider Woman also weaves the “relationship” of the Web of Life and all beings.
Leica M8, 28 mm Summicron Asph