by Suzanne Reisler Litwin
My daughter gave me a gift she felt I desperately needed. In a sweet card, she wrote down a phone number and a mild suggestion that I make an appointment immediately! I called the number and asked the receptionist a few questions. One such question was answered with this statement, “Of course, one of our most requested therapists”. So I went with that statement and believed in her honesty. I reluctantly made the appointment.
This was a birthday gift from my daughter. I couldn’t insult her by not accepting it. Besides, I just finished 4 months of tough work and brutal deadlines. I needed to breathe. My shoulders were in my ears! My fingers, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck and back were aching. I needed a reprieve. I needed to get a ton off my chest and find my peace. We both knew I needed this.
So, I went to the massage appointment with a half-opened mind. A person I had never met before was going to rub oil over most of my body and massage it. I waited in the “Spa Relaxation Lounge”, entirely unrelaxed. Actually, I had trepidations. I was wondering, what if I don’t like her touching me? What if she hurts me? What if I’m uncomfortable? If I am, can I just get up and leave? I’m not so sure about this. I hope she will be gentle but have a firm touch. While these nervous thoughts were running through my mind, a slightly deep-toned voice spoke my name. “Suzanne. Suzanne?” I looked up to the voice and realized that one of the most requested therapists was a MAN. Gulp!
Oh my God! Where is my daughter, because I have some words for her and they aren’t Happy Birthday! I got up, looked for God and walked towards this stranger. He introduced himself as Gilles. In my mind I said, I was expecting a woman named Jill! Uneasily, I followed him down a silent warm hallway. As I walked into the massage room, I bowed my head and conceded to my weary body. I begged myself to relax. Come on Sue, its only 50 minutes. You can manage this. Just try to relax. This is a gift, enjoy it… damn it.
Gilles asked me a few questions about my health, injuries and massage preference. At that moment, I wondered if I could ask him for my gal Jill. He left the massage room. I got onto the massage table and waited for his return. During those brief moments, more thoughts ran through my mind. I thought, Gilles was supposed to be Jill. I’m not prepared for this. I’m never going to be able to relax. I’m feeling more tension than before I got here. Did the 50 minutes start yet?
He opened the door and I closed my eyes and started a countdown in my mind. 50… la la la … 49… la la la … 48… la la la … I got to around 45 when I realized the palms of his hands were in fact godly. Around the 30 minute mark, I had melted into the massage table and started praying for the clock to reverse itself. Turn it back to 50, please! My weary body was close to sleep, but I wouldn’t let it happen as I didn’t want to be unconscious for a moment. Every urgent deadline date was lifting out of my body. Every assignment was dissipating. Every stress was being released.
Ya know, I’ve had massages before, but I had never felt this unbridled detachment of nerves and stress.
I heard nothing except for my own breathing and his faintly. Then he placed oil on my right hand, wrist and arm. The constant flow of words in my head became mute. Unconsciously so, but I was aware. I had no thoughts, I think? I was meditating and sinking into a repose of solemn peace. My tired writing fingers, wrist, and arm were finally tamed. Peace had settled within me. My shoulders, neck and upper back were next. I almost cried, I think? Then the left hand, wrist and arm. I was completely lost for words. There were no more phrases left in me. No sentence structure. No grammar. Nothing of nothing. A first in my adult life, I think? No thoughts, I think?
Was that a chime and some whispered inaudible words? “Thank you, Suzanne. I will see you in the hallway with some water.” Gilles had left the room. (Elvis had left the building). Thoughts started to slightly re-enter my mind. I can’t move. I can’t get off the table. I’ve lost my words. I can’t, I won’t, and I don’t want to move anything. Where is this? Where am I? Was I sleeping? Leave me here, please…
I somehow collected myself and shuffled into the hallway like a lost child. I was blinded by dimmed lights. As my eyes met Gilles’ eyes, I gazed at him. Then I looked down at his hands. These were the hands of a God or Goddess Pax. I felt completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace.
He thanked me again. I mumbled, “Merci”, back to him. He guided me back to the “Spa Relaxation Lounge”. I don’t know how long I sat there with some mango tea. I lost track of time, space, and place. For the first time in a long time, I had stopped composing in my mind. My fingers, hands, wrists, arms and shoulders were no longer being summoned by my brain to write. We were all mute.
At some point, I noticed the sun was setting and I realized I needed to get back to my family. So, I got up and went to the reception to finalize my time at the spa. I mumbled to the receptionist, “I need another appointment with Gilles. More time next time please.” She sweetly giggled, “Of course”. I left and I floated back to my family. That evening, I simply mumbled.
It took me 2 days for the words to come back into my mind. At that point, my brain summoned my body to compose again. I did and wrote this. For the first time in my life, I had experienced Immaculate Transportation. I know where to get this or how to get there. One way is to go to “The Heavenly Spa by Westin” in the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, in Hawaii and request Gilles. The other way is to find your centred peace in mindlessness or (mindfulness) relaxation and/or meditation. Either way, you go, it is worth the transportation!
Peace to Living in the Now.
Suzanne Reisler Litwin is an instructor at Concordia University in The Centre for Continuing Education. She is a writing instructor at The Cummings Centre. She writes a weekly column in The Suburban Newspaper and at the West Island Blog. Suzanne is a freelance contributor to The Suburban Newspaper, West Island Blog, Wise Women Canada, The Metropolitain, and Women on the Fence. She is the author of the children’s book, The Black Velvet Jacket. Visit suzannereislerlitwin.com to read more of her published articles, books, and poetry.