The Year Of The Horse


I had woken up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday. Better yet, I had thrown an existential temper tantrum that involved knocking some of my crystal collection and a bundle of sage off my nightstand, and then openly cursed my framed print that sat in simplicity and reminded me on the daily: “The universe is on our side.” According to Chinese Astrology, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Now, if we’re talking Chinese Astrology I’m actually an Ox – but I decided to view this a little more metaphorically and declared: “If it’s the Year of the Horse, I’m getting on that motherfucker and riding it right into 2014!”

I felt strong and powerful. I wasn’t sitting side saddle on a pristine white horse, I was blazing saddles on a goddamn Stallion. Although I started the New Year full of Robutussin and cough drops, I also started it with solid intentions and good spirits. I even spun the story that I was happy to be sick – it forced me to sit back, get plenty of rest, and to nourish myself rather than continue on the inevitable Holiday bender we all go on. However, in the last several days – despite defeating the cold Rocky Balboa style, I seemed to have misplaced my momentum.

But in true Tanya fashion I decided after complaining incessantly for twenty-minutes, and hating everyone; that that was enough dicking around. I was going to regain control, figure out my shit, get back on that horse and ride. So I made up my mind that I was going to get a massage. I had heard good things about the Massage School that was conveniently located quite close to my house, and was even more attracted to it’s dirt cheap prices. If I can pamper myself on pennies, I’m even more all for it. I arrived at 8 pm, an appointment that’s lateness slightly worried me that I would certainly receive a mandatory “happy ending.” They had grapefruit soaked water, some Pandora station that featured pan flutes on, and a whole adjacent gift shop that sold rocks and crystals. I was blissfully impressed. When my masseuse Troy came to get me, I was dinking around on my phone, hoping that I wouldn’t be judged for dinking around on my phone because I was sure the kind of people who worked there didn’t have smart phones, or Facebook accounts, and didn’t even know what instagram was. Surely they were too busy being enlightened, constantly reaching nirvana, and dabbing patchouli oil on their wrists. I liked his vibe but immediately felt a little awkward – I’m constantly panicked about how naked they want me to get and if they’re going to see my nipples when I shift positions or massage my butt. As much as I like a good butt rub, I had checked the box that said “I would not like to have my buttocks massaged tonight,” as it didn’t feel like that kind of night.

It turns out that unrobing and potential gluteus maximus massage, wouldn’t actually be the part that would be the blunder. Instead it was the first words out of his mouth: “I just want you to know before I start that I have a rare hereditary disorder that causes me to shake uncontrollably all the time. I like to let people know so that they don’t think I’m nervous. I’m actually excited, I love what I do.” Besides experiencing the adult version of shaken baby syndrome, I also realized that no one had ever explained to me that a deep tissue massage was what Satan gave you in hell’s version of the spa. Half the time I was in so much pain that I either couldn’t breath or wanted to vomit in my mouth. I immediately engaged in a negative talk with myself declaring that “Of course this would happen to me.” Of course, I couldn’t just get a normal, relaxing massage – instead I got stuck with some guy who may or may not inflict brain damage while he held my head in his hands and of course I picked some treatment that was pure adulterated torture.I don’t know when the switched flipped for me, but thank god it did. I fell a little bit in love with Troy. He was unsteady, but he was not unsure. He knew what he was doing, and he was putting every piece of energy he had in himself to working with my body.Here was this guy who could easily be on disability, or maybe you know – find some kind of job better suited for someone with violent hand problems, but no. He had found a passion and was determined to make it work and do what it is he wanted to do. There’s a good chance that Troy may not get as many repeat customers as his peers, but I’m sure he knows that. And the pain, I became enamored with the pain in a non-sadistic kind of way. I asked questions and learned that those knots you get in your back? When your muscles are stressed, they block oxygen and nutrients, which leads to inflammation and toxin build up in the muscle tissue. While that’s gross, and deep tissue massages are about as equally appealing- they help to loosen these muscles, release toxin from the muscles, and get blood and oxygen to circulate properly.

My terrible massage had shockingly revealed itself as a metaphor for life and I remembered that sometimes you have to feel pain to know pleasure, and that sometimes you have to feel bad before you feel good again. I also realized how important it is to release things, whether that means a bundle of toxic muscle, a person, an idea, or a negative pattern we are stuck in. We all hold on to things that don’t necessarily make us feel our best, and it is essential to know that most of the time we create these things for ourselves and absolutely have the power to let them go.

After my appointment with Troy I decided to devote the entire rest of the night to myself. I walked the dogs, marveled at the moon, and took a bath that only got weird when Phil Collins somehow snuck on my Pandora. I could just picture an unassuming roommate walking in while “A Groovy Kind of Love,” was playing and there I was steeping in my bubbles by only the light of candles. I took that as my cue that my bath was over.At the end of the day I felt baptized, and renewed. Something had been released, and it wasn’t just my toxic muscles. It was my toxic energy, my misplaced lack of motivation, the idea that a wrong side of the bed even exists.

Welcome the fact that negative energy will come into your life and accept it, but know when to release it. Happily ever after includes being cranky, having bad days, being unmotivated and anxious at times. Like it or not, that’s normal. When you fall off the horse you can always get back on, and just because you don’t think you’re going the right way – it doesn’t mean you’re not headed in the right direction.

There’s no good or bad side to the bed, you’re the one who makes it, and you’re the one who lies in it. Allow yourself to feel what you feel but don’t lose sight of who you are. If you do, know that a perspective change may only be a simple and really weird massage away.

4 thoughts on “The Year Of The Horse

  1. dear lord. while i’m sure that troy, bless his little shaking heart, had the best of intentions, terrible “deep tissue” massages like the one you unfortunately experienced give truly gifted bodyworkers like myself and my collegues that do real, deep work a bad rep. my apologies, love, but with bodywork you often get what you pay for. spring for a legit therapist next time. 😉

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