Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Living and dying and community acupuncture

My oldest brother, William, passed away on December 5th. I shut the clinic down down for a couple of days to be with my family and bury my brother. Just incredibly sad. One of my first thoughts was that I really couldn't afford to close again ( I had just been closed for five or six days straight for Thanksgiving ) - a sad testament to the world we live in. Of course I did close. I was, however, grateful to have work to return to, to occupy myself with.

William taught me art, my first love. As he was being lowered in the ground I noticed a 'T' had been left off his last name on the vault the casket was placed in. He would have appreciated this attention to detail, and the application of the letter with silver spray paint. A fitting final moment.

I have thought about community acupuncture as a great leveler before, but this thought seemed particularly poignant upon my return - my senses heightened by raw grief. In one chair is a patient who ultimately will die from the cancer they are fighting, in the next someone with a broken heart. One is just stressed, another has a headache. All receiving acupuncture together. All human. All suffering, each in their own way.

In the community acupuncture setting all these beings converge, each ones story unknown to the other - participants all in the large group nap that happens in the treatment room at South Austin Community Acupuncture. It is a profoundly dignified thing, in it's own perfectly messy way.

So community acupuncture brings us together. We hardly even have to talk about it. We are all human.
We all know what that is.