Metta Mind Journal

METTA MIND JOURNAL: CYNIC’S PAUL MASVIDAL ON A GRUESOME INJURY AND UNEXPLAINED HEALING

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Moms, Magic, and a Little Legwork

I started writing lyrics for a new song this week. For me, each song has its own story or feeling that it’s trying to share, and my job is to discover the song’s truth, or, get as close to articulating what it’s trying to say. The vibe of this new tune is reflective and assertive at the same time, kind of like being gently nudged into a river, knowing that we won’t drown, but that we’ll have to learn how to swim ourselves. After finishing a first draft of the lyrics, I realized the story of this song would also lend itself well to the next column, so here we are:

Between the ages of seven and ten, we lived in a house that had a big trampoline in the backyard. My friend Anna was over one day and we did our usual jumping routine. One of our favorite games was double-jumping each other to see who could go higher. It’s a trick where one jumps a split second before the other and it causes the second jumper to multiply the strength of their bounce by fifty percent or more. During one of these double jumps, I found myself soaring higher than I’d ever been, but on my way down, something didn’t look right. As gravity had its way, and with the trampoline no longer beneath me, I watched my legs hurtle toward the metal rails that framed the trampoline’s edge. My left leg slid perfectly into the narrow space between the two rails, but too narrow for my knee. I heard a loud “Crunch!”

In the next moment, as the weight of my body fell forward, my trapped leg began folding in half the wrong way at the knee. I heard a horrible snap. I couldn’t feel anything and was in a bit of a daze, when suddenly, my little nine-year-old friend Anna, who was half my size, was lifting my body up. I looked down at my leg and saw it swiveling three hundred sixty degrees, like a tether ball attached to my hip. There was blood dripping off my bare feet and the whole thing just looked ugly. Anna was extremely gentle but precise with her movements. Amazingly, she cradled me in her arms and lowered me onto the grass like a weightless feather, as if she were an adrenaline-fueled man lifting a car to save a trapped child. I marveled at her magical strength and asked, “How did you do that?” It was actually a good distraction considering the shape I was in, but Anna had already darted off to get help. I just lay there looking up at the gigantic pine trees that stood in our backyard. I felt a tremendous sense of peace and wondered if I was dreaming.

Word quickly spread in my family and I remember a handful of visitors that week in the hospital. I’ll never forget my father giving me a book titled The Zen of Running. I left the hospital a week later, wearing a heavy white plaster cast that covered my entire leg. In the following months, I would have the old cast sawed off, my leg cleaned, and a new one put on. My leg looked scrawny, deformed, and it smelled weird every time they took the old cast off. Eventually I got used to moving around on crutches with this heavy thing on my leg.

One day, during a routine X-ray exam, the doctor turned to my mother and said, “Your son is going to be handicapped. The fracture was so severe, his leg won’t ever be a functional limb.” To add to my mother’s horror, he also told her that the muscle around my knee had started growing tissue and that it was deforming the area, which meant the broken leg would be noticeably shorter than my other leg. Nine-year-old humans can be incredibly resilient. I don’t remember being concerned at all. Instead, I explored the idea of how interesting my life would become with this new verdict, and even asked myself, “Will I always need crutches? Or maybe a leg brace?” My mother, on the other hand, was not cool with the news. She cried on the way home. When my father heard, he said he wanted to take me to a specialist to see if they could do anything. I carried on, happy to finally have the heavy cast off my leg, and was already quite used to life with a pair of crutches, so I couldn’t be bothered.

One afternoon, my mother asked me to come into the bathroom. Gloria, my nanny and our housekeeper who was like a second mom to me, was waiting there with some substances in a couple of jars. They asked me to sit on the sink counter top with my leg stretched out. They started applying a white paste onto my leg and mixed some brown leaves into it. (I later learned it was an herbal poultice made of bay leaves). My mother said my leg was going to get better and she said it in such a matter of fact way that I believed her.

A few weeks later, at another routine check-up, our doctor left the room and returned with two colleagues. They compared my old X-ray with the new one and spoke medical talk to each other. Our doctor turned to my mother and said, “This is a miracle. Your son’s leg is almost completely healed. The overgrown tissue is gone and the leg looks remarkable compared to his last visit. We can’t make any sense of this.” My mother turned to me and smiled. She knew something he didn’t. I thought, “Wow, cool! My mom has magic powers and proved the medical world wrong right before my eyes.”

Who knows what happened that day? Was it the power of thought? A simple suggestion from my mother and Gloria interacting with my own mind, coupled with the intention behind my father’s book choice—all of this activating my leg’s innate molecular intelligence to heal itself?

Years later, I asked her more about it and she said that it took a lot of prayer and focused intention. If you think about it, my mother’s “leg work” did more than help heal my leg that day. She uncovered the nature of possibility and the power of intention for a nine-year-old boy by trusting in something unseen to intervene and help her son. Because of my mother’s faith and her belief, I saw the changing nature of reality that opened my mind up to a new perspective. This was a powerful intervention considering I grew up in a drama-filled family that was often caught up in a fixed, static view of their own personal relationships and how they had gone awry.

Sometimes the bigger miracle isn’t in the form of a physical healing, but it’s more about the mind being given an opportunity to see things anew. By taking matters into her own hands and believing that we can make a difference in our own healing, my mother was actually healing herself. We were all in on this. Nothing would be solid after this day, except what I chose to make solid. Life could be fluid and workable, if I could just trust in the unknown of any situation. I saw this with my own eyes against a doctor’s diagnosis. Also, Western medicine never looked the same to me from that day forward. Neither did a solid, fixed point of view. Maybe that’s why my doctors are now an acupuncturist, a shaman, and a meditation instructor. Curiously enough, my mother ended up marrying a wonderful man who happens to be a doctor.

Some people say that healing, or making whole again, happens when the mind sees the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. Everything else is “dis-ease,” or not at one with what is. I do know that one has to surrender and be willing and open to receive healing energy. It takes courage and a strong belief or openness to the possibility (as my mother has shown me) in order for our bodies to heal themselves.

Ultimately, I’m in awe and honored to have a direct experience of witnessing the power of healing. Maybe the power of focused intention and prayer actually did the trick. Maybe it was just how things transpired and although science couldn’t explain it, what happened was simply a natural course of events. I don’t really need to understand what happened that day. It’s better left alone as a mysterious memory that perhaps a rational mind isn’t meant to comprehend.

—PM

Notes:

Although I completely healed from what the doctors predicted my future to be, I still have residue from the accident. If you hang around me long enough and we go for a long walk, you’ll eventually notice that I have a slight limp, but it can be subtle and temperamental depending on the day. I’ve also discovered certain limitations in how much I can do with my leg in certain bends through hatha yoga.

I wasn’t raised in any particular religion, but my mother always had one foot in the esoteric world. She took me to astrologers ever since I was a young boy and would often let me hang out at Agartha Secret City bookstore in our neighborhood. It was here that I first discovered Robert Venosa’s art in the form of postcards. Thanks, Mom.

What’s your experience with unexplained magic?

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