Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An abundance of beauty, made more manageable with Chinese medicine

The Sufi acupuncturist thought about it for awhile this morning when I told him I was suffering from Stendahl syndrome. He listened to all my pulses a second and third time, his brows knitted, eyes closed. He really listens. When he opened his eyes he told me there is a clarity in my pulses he has never felt. Then he nodded. He agrees - I'm overwhelmed by beauty. It is kind of hilarious, really.

He reassured me. He told me awe is exactly what we're supposed to feel at this time of year. That it's making me slightly queasy is the funny part. A few needles and some time on his table relieved the symptoms. I'm feeling much more balanced.

I told him about holding the Yizkor book and my surprising, profound bout of grieving afterwards.

I told him how I romanticized the lives of my ancestors, imagining scenes from Fiddler on the Roof. He laughed when I told him about the borscht. I didn't set out to, but ended up with the ingredients to make borscht after a grocery buying bender last week. Moved by my ardor for the ancestors, I devoted an entire day to making the stock, then a serious chunk of the following afternoon making the soup. And? … Drum roll please ... It is so horrible! Even sour cream can't fix borscht. It was while I was pouring it down the garbage disposal that I realized borscht is something you make when that's all you have to eat.


The point being, I am trying to understand these ancestors. I'm trying to imagine their lives in that tiny hamlet, I'm trying to make contact. I want to honor and remember them - their lives, I mean. I have grieved their horrible deaths in the Holocaust for ten years. Now what I yearn to connect with is some sense of their lives. The process has been strenuous. My heart is open in a way I've rarely experienced.

I've been listening to a lot of Chopin recently. Usually I'm a Bach/Mozart kind of gal. I like the precision of that music. Everything about it is perfect, in its place. Chopin's music is passionate. It's exotic, usually too exotic for me, but not recently.

Listening to Chopin's music is one of the ways I'm trying to connect, because he was Polish. Vzshgorodek was once a part of Poland, also officially a part of Russia during the years when there was no Poland. Now it's farmland in modern Ukraine.

Poland is a really interesting place for so many reasons. For instance, Chopin's heart is encased in a pillar somewhere in Warsaw. We of western European/U.S. culture would never think to take the heart of someone we admired to enshrine it, but the Poles would. It's like the ancient Egyptians - so cool.

The Melikiers were not Mozart/Bach people. No. They were Chopin people. They were Eastern Europeans, part of that culture. Were there Klezmer musicians? Did townsfolk periodically burst into song as in Fiddler? I'm trying to imagine. One thing I can't imagine is a lot of enthusiasm for Baroque music. Who knows?

Last year I put a stone on my mother's grave. This year, I will have the few pages of yizkor memories translated into English. It will help me, yes indeed, but the translation will also be my contribution to a project that means a lot to many others as well.

I honor my ancestors, I surely do!



Pam said...

I think we always want to think the best of people but they were only human after all - we are all bought up by imperfect people - the best any of us can do is to practice a good heart don't you think? - in that way they would make us proud, and we would them.
Your acupuncturist sounds the best!

Reya Mellicker said...

My acupuncturist arrived in this lifetime with all his wisdom intact.

Rebecca Clayton said...

I didn't realize you didn't like borscht. It's part of my ancestral culinary heritage, but I guess the Bohemian version is different--ours was vegetarian, and beefed up at the table with sour cream and boiled eggs.

I really like most of the poor peoples' foods of my ancestors--especially cornbread and beans. I was shocked, though, to encounter cabbage soup in the Scottish Highlands--they boil the cabbage stalks (after the cabbage is consumed), and serve it with salt and pepper. It's like dishwater. The winters must have been long and hungry.

I hope your ancestors had music and dancing, beautiful skies and food they liked. (Maybe beets are better if you've known them since they were seedlings.)

Reya Mellicker said...

I love beets and many beef based soups, but together it was like sweet beef broth. YUCK.

I could look to other recipes - but I'm thinking I've had my borscht encounter. Enough is enough.

Reya Mellicker said...

I LOVE cornbread. I wish I could digest beans. And yes, oh my. Long and hungry winters, yes.

Steve Reed said...

I never knew Chopin was Polish! I always thought he was French -- and apparently his father was French -- but yes, Chopin grew up in Warsaw. Who knew?!

I used to get borscht at Veselka, a Ukrainian restaurant in New York, and it was terrific. If you ever go there you have to try it. They probably add stuff that Ukrainian peasants would not have had available, but still, I love it. :)

Linda Roberts said...

For more Polish in your life listen to Katy Carr: Paszport and get a copy of Iris Murdoch's 'Nuns and Soldiers'.

Linda Roberts said...
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