Thursday, July 13, 2006

Today the string on my greenstone broke. I noticed that it seemed to have worn down to one strand where the string threaded through the hole in the greenstone. I tugged at it and it came away in my hand. I was left with the string still hanging around my neck and the greenstone, bare, lying there in my palm looking up at me.

My mother helped me choose the greenstone some years ago now, when I was still living in Auckland. We bought it at a local craft market. It is made from Takaka greenstone (not imported jade), and has a mako symbol carved into it for strength and determination.

Since I bought it the greenstone has only rarely been removed from around my neck. I don't necessarily think of that as being a good thing, as I've always vaguely believed that greenstone absorbs your energy, and can keep hold of things you are trying to release. I was told to leave it out in the grass in a full moon, or to wash it in the sea. It's funny the things we choose to believe that we can't fully rationalise, but that we sort of feel instinctively to be true.

The first time I cleansed the greenstone I remember very clearly. I was taking part in my first ever Buddhist retreat at Awhitu Peninsula south of Auckland. There was a lovely wise man at the retreat who had brought along a number of crystals from his collection. He invited me to go with him to wash his crystals and my greenstone in the sea. We had only a very limited time before we had to be back at the retreat centre for our next meditation session. When we walked down to the beach we found that the tide had gone out a huge distance, and that an island that had previously been inaccessible was now only being lapped at by the water.

The island seemed like a suitable spot from which to immerse our treasures in water, so we padded out through the sand and stood ankle deep in the warm water. I remember the sun shining on the greenstone and other crystals as they lay there, the amazing sense of peace and tranquility. When the time seemed right we picked everything up and turned back towards land. It was at that point we looked at our watches and realised that, if we didn't hurry, we were going to be very late for practise.

We sprinted back to the centre. I know I arrived very red faced, hot and puffed. I entered the meditation room in a huge hurry and sat down on my mat before realising that I had not cleaned my feet. For the rest of the retreat I meditated with the feeling of sand rubbing against my legs on the meditation cushion beneath me. I was too afraid to sweep it off, as it somehow felt sacred and not something to be cast away. Of course, at the end of the retreat, it got enthusiastically swept away with all the other debree.

It was some time before I realised my companion had not joined me in the room, and was in fact lying, sunning himself, in a very brief pair of speedos, face down in the sun. He later gave me a piece of rose quartz from his collection. He told me to stop wearing heavy-framed plastic glasses, and to replace them with frameless titanium ones so that people could see my face properly. I still think he was right, and I'm still wearing thick plastic.

From time to time when I've been at the beach I've taken the greenstone off. I took it off after doing some intense personal cleansing work and couldn't touch it for several weeks until I could leave it out in the grass at the top of our garden under the full moon. I lent it to a friend when she went off on her own journey.

It was once suggested to me that I should cut the cord. I could never bring myself to do that, but over the last few weeks I started to feel its pull less strongly. I even took it off a few times to put on other necklaces or jewellry. When having coffee with a friend a few days ago I realised that the ring I was wearing, the necklace I was wearing, and the greenstone I had taken off that morning, were all chosen for me by my mother. In my sock drawer I have a cameo ring that was my grandmother's. Earlier this year the cameo decided it wanted to go and hang out for a while with a friend of mine who was singing Billie Holiday songs in a play Hamish and I were working on at the time. I figured Nana liked Billie Holiday.

I felt I was letting go of some of the pull of the greenstone, so when it finally came apart in my hands I had this amazing sense of lightness, of endings and beginnings. In a week when I've been in constant low-level pain, when I couldn't run, when I've felt like I'm saying all the wrong things and disappointing people, either asking the wrong questions or needing the wrong answers, this seemed like a rather powerful message.

I'm not giving up on the greenstone all together. A friend from work has a sister who can re-string it for me, with a nice silver clasp. It will all happen in good time

And no, I'm not running tonight. After a day of aching soreness I figured I could probably go out and run for half an hour, and feel pleased with myself for doing it. However I also figured that I would probably be even worse tomorrow. It seemed wiser to miss one run now rather than several later on. After consulting with Allie and Hamish it was agreed that if I was considering not running then I REALLY shouldn't be running. So I went home and sat there while torrential rain poured down outside, blown by wild gales. Somehow not running didn't seem like such a tragedy after that!

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