Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bridge of the Gods

Sitting down in the cafeteria this morning, I was reminded of a story from the Columbia River Gorge that I used to love, but had forgotten about. Native American mythology has always fascinated me. Unlike Eastern and European mythology where the myths seemed to center on fear, Native stories seems to try and explain events with more of morality tale. The legends of the Columbia River Gorge mountains is one of those examples.

The great chief of all the Gods, Tyhee Saghalie, brought his sons to the Nch'i-wan (big river), giving Pahto the land to the North, and Wy'East the land to the South. Connecting the tribes was a great stone bridge crossing the river, named Tahmahnawis, the bridge allowed the tribes to cross freely and live in harmony with each other. Here, legend vary from various sources. Some say the two tribes became jealous of each others lands and began fighting, and Tyhee Saghalie took their fire from them, or that fire was discovered by Loowit, and old wandering hag. I prefer the fire discovery story.

Once Loowit discovered fire, she brought it to Tyhee Saghalie as a gift. He cooked his food for the first time, and decided it was good, and for her gift, Loowit would be granted a wish. She chose to be beautiful, with long wavy hair and green-gold eyes, so Saghalie made it so. This cause great conflict between the brothers Pahto and Wy'East as they both vied for her affections. Fighting as brothers do, they caused great storms, lightning to strike, avalanches to fall, and the ground to shake. Tahmahnawis, the great stone bridge connecting the tribes across the Nch'i-wan, cracked and fell into the waters, causing the river to rise and a great cascade of water to fall over the remains.

Tyhee Saghalie awoke from his nap in front of his fire and saw the great battle ensuing. To punish his sons for their jealousy, he turned them into the majestic mountains we now see in the Coliumbia River Gorge, Mount Adams (Pahto) and Mt. Hood (Wy'East). Various legends surround Loowit, that she was either turned into another mountain out of sorrow and loneliness, or the Tyhee Saghalie wanted her to watch over the brothers, but she is now known as Mt. St. Helens. Other tribes vary the Loowit legend that she lay down by the victor of the great battle, who knows.

What was the morality lesson to be told? Is it that jealousy will destroy even the most content society? Is it that love can be a powerful, but also dangerous force when you don't consider who you hurt along the way? It can be read many ways, but because I grew up in the Columbia River Gorge in the shadows of Pahto, Wy'East and Loowit, it is a story that will always be close to my heart. I hope to stand atop these beautiful and solemn mountains soon, to see what the Gods of the early people saw, and it will be good.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gravity and Water

Why does the full moon affect us so
Is it the increased gravity pulling on our bodies
Do we realize the gravity of the situation
Is it some primal instinct we cannot comprehend
I stand by the water on this moonlit night
The mountains rising high above as silent sentinels
As I try to understand the gravity
The light is bright, I can see everything
Except where I go from here
Gravity pulls me in directions I was not prepared for
My senses seem to sharpen
I hear the water lapping against the rocks
I see the snowfields and ridge lines above
The air is clear and cold
I long for her touch.

Crap....I'm not a poet. No matter how hard I try to be profound with words, I always end up falling back on my standard prose. So, yeah....the moon is full and it was an amazing walk along the lake. I tried to just talk as thoughts came to me, and at first it sounded pretty good. Then I lost my train of thought in how quiet it was, so I grabbed my phone and started recording with the memo recorder. Yeah....that train of thought left the station and I was left on the platform. Oh, well. I do better trying to string words together in full sentences rather than try to be something I'm not. Some people just have it, and being a music freak I like to pick out certain songs that by themselves would be great works of poetry. In fact, I'm listening to one right now......

Listen, hear, he is inside
One who lives while others lie
I close my eyes and walk a thousand years
A thousand years that aren't mine
It seems he's near me as I walk
One who loved what love denied
He lives these years that I walk blind  
All these years cannot be mine  
Tomorrow begat tomorrow 
A thousand doors a thousand lies
Rooms a thousand years wide
He walks in the cold sun and wind  
All these years will not begin  
Tomorrow begat tomorrow

Fuck.....Why can't I come up with something like that? Maybe because I'm currently residing in the former stomping grounds of Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder, and I'm looking at the same mountains as they did.

"I had to wait and get to see the face of reality – and it finally comes… it comes in these words: “The void is not disturbed by any kind of ups or downs, my God look at Hozomeen, is he worried or tearful?... Why should I choose to be bitter or sweet, he does neither? – Why cant I be like Hozomeen and O Platitude O hoary old platitude of the bourgeois mind ‘take life as it comes’… All I have to do is wait 30 long days to get down from the rock and see sweet life again – knowing it’s neither sweet nor bitter but just what it is, and so it is." Kerouac

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain   
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read   
A few friends, but they are in cities.   
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup   
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

Ritualized Dream Production

I think all of us attending this class have been experiencing more vivid and randomly bizarre dreams since arriving. I always dream, and sometimes very vividly, but here it has been a nightly occurrence. At lunch today, I was having a quick chat with one of the other students, and he brought up a very valid point, we have all been taken from our everyday environments and thrust into a totally new situation. In that new situation, we have schedules, rituals, and new routines forming. We all eat meals at the same time, we are all being bombarded by information overload, but the point he brought up was this: We are all being somewhat sensory deprived and in our dreams, our wants and needs manifest themselves. I thought about it for a minute and realized that he had a very valid point. Our behavior patterns are following a strict model, and we are in a routine where we see the same people, same buildings, and same scenery all day, every day. Unless we break out of that routine and feed our senses, then self consciously we are let loose in dreams. Of course, most of what I have been dreaming about makes no or little sense, but it does make me pause when I awake to think about what was just going on inside my head.

If we were to take the Freudian translation of dreams, my dreams are centered on the Id and the Ego. Dreams of the primal urges or of rationality seem to be the pattern, with elements of displacement and symbolization. Lets say last night, at first I had a dream regarding teamwork and everyday life, but in the dream, I was having images of nets dividing myself and others from our peers. Later, the dream slipped to simply myself alone, driving an old Ford pickup through the high desert, seemingly driving without any goal or destination. One interpretation of "nets" is being caught in a complex life situation. As we progress, driving can have numerous interpretations. Mainly, it is seen as ones journey through life, and how or what you are driving can have meanings as well. The fact that I had no set destination , and in my dream knew it, was an interesting point. It can represent a reflection on progress or self discovery, but then the interpretation is vague about ones surroundings or the destination. Maybe it means I'm on the right path in life, but might have a few speed bumps and difficult situations along the way. It is just interesting to try and narrow down the reasoning for such random dreaming.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A death in the family.

Today we did a scenario on psychiatric emergencies, my partner and I were dealing with a young woman who was suicidal. Wow. Hits home when you think about the friends you lost who ended their lives way too soon. I'm constantly reminded of Dave Trudeau, wondering if I could have done anything to keep him from ending his life way too soon. The answer is, no. I hate to say that, but he gave us no outward signs of his state of mind, there was no cry for help. He'd already formulated a plan for his own demise, and never let anyone close to him know. It wasn't until the next day when we found out, when we realized by how he was acting the night before that he was saying goodbye. He was saying goodbye to his friends everywhere he went. Not "see you tomorrow", but goodbye.......I wished I could have seen it then, in hindsight none of us could have really known. He didn't open up to us about his family life so we could try and help. All that potential......he was a good kid. That's all I have right now.

A random thought from a dream.

This came to me because of a dream I had, trying to keep track of the details. Everyone seems to be having very vivid and randomly bizarre dreams up here.

“..Time with you was perfect, never boring, never wasted, you were always the same - intense and beautiful, amazing. I would look at you as we sat in places, when I was away from you, I would stare at you picture endlessly. Something you never got a chance to find out, something you'll never know, one fact - I would've done anything for you, knowing, that it all could be used against me. I know what happens when you do it even a little - I have the scars. For you, I would've pulled sunlight from thin air, and lifted the curses from your life. I loved you so. It's tragic at this point. It's like an ongoing funeral. You're out there somewhere. And sometimes I feel myself dying slow, knowing that you're alive somewhere, and somebody else's smelling your hair, touching your neck. You know how those barbed and clawed nights can pass, they rip the meat right off your back, send you to the corner and leave you with enough of your senses to realize that you’ll live to see another hammering night alone...”
                                                                                         Henry Rollins

How is it that is such a miniscule amount of time we can become so overwhelmingly fascinated with another human being?

I look into her eyes, and see such wisdom, I can see thousands of thoughts swirling about, but at the same time, I see a hint of sadness. For who? For what? The fact that she can be so knowledgeable, so confident, but at the same time seem so vulnerable. I want to know why, but I don’t know how to get close to her. Is this the curse of my life? Every time I want to get close to someone, I either shut down or end up sorting through the wreckage after the fact. I’ve had plenty of time in the last few weeks to rethink my life, what I want, what I need. I keep feeling this sense of urgency, that time is running out and I will finish my life alone, not being able to share what I have to give. Events of this last weekend didn’t help matters any when a gentleman who at age 60 is already nearing the end, and having him tell me it was an amazing thing to be able to do what I wanted to do with life before it was too late.

The emotions blindside me when I think about how there are people around me, that in another time and place, are of an age that could have been my own children. It’s a sobering reminder of what could have been, but then makes me wonder if it is something that will ever be. I find myself trying to look over them, act like a mentor or father figure, but then I’m left with an empty feeling when I see the incompleteness of my existence. Why does this happen to me when I’m in such a transitional state in my life?! I feel young and old at the same time, what a paradox. I feel young and alive because I’m starting over, doing something new, doing what I want to do with my life. Then I feel old again, when I see all these people in relationships, or see friends with children who are now grown up…… I feel like it is too late for me, and I find myself more often feeling like I will end this life alone. This thought shakes me to the core. The she comes along.

We come from such different worlds, and in the course of everyday life we may have never met, but it happened. What frightens me is where I go from here, I am at a loss, I can’t stop thinking about those eyes. They look right through me, and I see sorrow, wonder, and a sense of longing, for what I have no clue. I know that what I feel isn’t necessarily for her, or about her, but of an ideal. I see the things I want in life, I am challenged to think differently, but then that panic sets in of being too late. Too late….

I’m torn, having convinced myself that these are things I did not want, but then having an overpowering moment of recognition that yes, I desire what I told myself wasn’t important, what would only hinder me….. But I was wrong. New beginnings can alter your perception; make you realize what you had suppressed for all these years. Is this just another fleeting moment and within a few more weeks it will pass? Maybe, I don’t have the foresight to give myself the answers. Why, of all places, do I spend so much time soul-searching while in the forest? Why can’t I rationalize and think these things through in my everyday life?

In a few weeks, I’ll probably forget all about this, but in this place and time it consumes me.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

First ER Rotation, 2-3-12/2-4-12

Part of the EMT class I'm attending is having actual patient contact. Normally there are two ways of going about this, either time on an ambulance or in a hospital Emergency Department, so last night I spent 8 hours at the Skagit Valley Hospital. I can say, I was anxious but not nervous, I knew that if anything happened and I ended up in over my head, someone would get me out of the way or show me what to do. The anxiety stems from now dealing with real patients, people with real injuries and illnesses, not simulated scenarios, and they are complete strangers. When you're in the hospital with a family member, you are focused in on just what is in front of you, and generally speaking, there isn't much you can do but sit, wait, and listen. Now, I was putting on gloves and following nurses, doctors, and technicians around to provide real patient care. Upon arrival, we met Gene, the charge nurse. Gene was an old Navy vet who has been an RN for I don't know how long, but that department was unequivocally his during that shift. He was like a conductor of a symphony, directing doctors and other staff to where they needed to be, and also being there whenever there was any questions.

We also met Todd, the technician on shift that night. He's an EMT and fire fighter who is continuing his education while working shifts at the hospital. He gave us the grand tour, showing us all the various gadgets and gizmos (good proper medically terminology, eh?) and what to do when and where. After that they divided us up amongst different RN's since we had four students on shift from two different locations, which was unexpected. It was also a slow night, which is great for the general public, but not for students. We started shadowing our RN's around, mine was Alana, who started out down in Phoenix back in 2005. She also worked at another hospital to the south in Arlington, Wa., so she works several shifts each week.

Even though there were no traumas or major codes, it was still an amazing night for learning and putting "soft skills" to use. I was able to sit in on several procedures, help with vitals, move patients and just be supportive for them. The nurses all appreciated the extra hands, since we could run and grab certain items or help move or hold people if they needed us. Alana also went over charting and documentation with me, which is of the utmost importance in the medical field. They teach this at all levels of healthcare, "If it isn't written down, it didn't happen".

As the night wound down, my partner and I were experiencing fatigue, but we kept going until 7am. We both walked out with smiles on our faces, even if we could barely see straight. I may not have been able to dispense much in the way of hands on care, but I was able to dispense comfort and encouragement, and receive the same from many of the patients. I had a gentleman tell me it was a great thing to be doing what I wanted to do with my life before it was too late, and was thanked by his sister for being there to help care for him. My partner and I were thanked by another gentleman's wife for being there and helping care for him as well. It felt good, even though I'm not going into this field for praise and recognition, but to see that you may have made a little difference when one someone was having a really bad day......That was an amazing experience.