My family had a rather untraditional Thanksgiving this year, complete with a Sumatran elephant ride, a Hawaiian turkey bake, fresh coconut water, a Balinese massage and a rainy rice paddy walk.
But the day began most unusually, with a visit to a healer. A healer not unlike Elizabeth Gilbert's Ketut in Eat, Pray, Love.
I don't know that I really buy into the whole spiritual healing thing but there's something about knowing that these practices and beliefs have been around for thousands of years that makes me inclined to be less skeptical than usual, even if I do still find some things rather hokey.
With my parents, the healer prodded at their temples with his fingers and poked at pressure points on their feet with a stick, sometimes eliciting small (or big) yelps of pain. And each time there was a yelp, the healer would nod and say, "That was your lower back" or "That was your left knee." Then he'd make a few motions ("Moving around your blocked energy," my yogi cousin explained) and voila! He'd poke the same spot, and this time, no more yelping would occur. When my brother's turn came, the healer looked him up and down and sighed. "What do you need me for? So young!" But still, he poked and prodded. No yelping occurred, much to my (and, I suspect, my parents') disappointment.
Then it was my turn. The healer didn't even bother to feel my temples. "I already know she is fine," he explained. Instead, he went straight for my toes. Poke, nothing, poke, nothing, poke, nothing. "Liver, lungs, kidneys. All fine." Then he took a look at me and poked the corner of my fourth toe. "Ow." It felt a bit like he had taken a pair of tongs and pinched my toe. He poked again. And then, noticing the look on my parents' faces, he turned back to me again and gave his diagnosis. "You are fine, but maybe. Maybe you are asking questions. Asking 'Why?' Looking for answers. Questioning."
You'd only have to take a look at the books I'd brought with me on my trip to figure that out. Apart from a novel I'd been trying to finish for the past year (now complete), I had with me The Happiness Project and Mere Christianity. How's that for soul-searching reading material?
I hoped the healer would move my energy around and make my questioning toe go away, just as he had with my dad's achy back. Instead, he just looked at me and said, "You must look inside yourself."
And that was that. He made it sound so simple.