My people are a simple people. We are strict, but we laugh a lot. We have tender hearts and cry easily. We are quick to anger and have a righteous streak. We are opinionated and stubborn. We are more about raising children and vegetables than building empires. We like to work with our hands. More than a hint of OCD. A bit on the nerdy side. Though I am a Horse by birth, I am of the Bear Clan on all sides: the Bernese bear on the Swiss, the ancient waguma totem on the Japanese, and of course the NorCal grizzly through and through. My wife says I walk like a bear. Since she is also a bear (a mighty Mama Polar Bear) perhaps she knows it when she sees other bears.
(I am also a Monkey, but for today let's focus on just one of my Multiple Animal Personalities).
I was born in 1966, which makes me a Horse. A Fire Horse: dangerous yang. Lucky for me, my wonderful wife is a Water Tiger, which balances my recklessness. I like to think that the Fire fuels my imagination, keeps me going, and warms those I love.
As a Simple Horse I do not like being corralled. It is hard for me to get with the program, unless it’s my program. When I am doing what I want to do, I am enthusiastic and fun to be around, and, I like to think, good at what I do. When I’m not doing what I want to do I get grumpy and people around me start to complain.
Simple Horse likes to wander the margin, the hinterlands, the zone where society and family and work on the one side lap up against the vast wilds of Nature and Mind on the other. Maybe I am an Edgetarian. I believe that this in-between world is a source of great healing power, and that while being healthy has a lot to do with genetics, personal awareness and good habits, it also has to do with resonance and flow and ease. When I am in the zone, those around me flow easier too, with an overall positive impact on their health and well-being. At least, that is part of my narrative about being a Stone Age healer in the 21st century.
As a Simple Horse, my attitude towards medicine is very straightforward. I do not hide behind esoteric theories and white coat attitude. Where there is Stagnation, break it up! If there is Cold, warm it up! If there is Heat, cool it down! Drain what is Full and nourish what is Empty. If you are stuck in your head I will get you in your body. If you are stuck in your body I will get things moving again. I’ll probably tell you to take a hike or roll around on the ground. If you are eating crap I will tell you to stop it, and maybe share some recipes. If you are running around like crazy I will tell you to take a break. For most people, slowing down is the important thing. That’s why my clinic is more like an inn than a clinic – a place where you can take a break, enjoy a cup of tea or some herbal liqueur, lie down and relax. Tell me what is bothering you and I will roll up my sleeves and do my best to help you feel better. Once you have rested, and feel better, you are better equipped to be on your Way. And so, you leave the inn and continue on your journey.
Broadly speaking, Simple Horse does not believe in Riders. Why would I let someone ride me around? How undignified! Some say the Animal somehow creates the Rider, and that when the Animal dies the Rider vanishes. Others say the Rider sneaks onto the Animal at conception, when the Animal is still a little jellyroll. Some believe that when the Animal dies the Rider flies away to a special beautiful place where Riders go to live forever. I am a Simple Horse. All I can say is that here I am, it’s pretty great much of the time and not as great other times, and no sign of a Rider anywhere, or of the vast shining retirement home where they all go when we die.
(Some would point out, is it the Animal or the Rider who is writing these words? Touché. I would respond that a Brain may equal a Mind, but that a Mind does not necessarily equal a Soul much less a Spirit or even a Self.)
But I do not like to spend too much time pondering existential or theological questions. My approach is entirely postmodern and phenomenological. You don’t have to believe anything! God, qi, the five elements, the authority of doctors or states, it’s all irrelevant. You just have to embrace the responsibility and experience of having a body, of being an Animal on this amazing Earth with its self-renewing creatures of green and red that eat each other, constantly becoming each other in this ever-transforming thin film of life. Sometimes I am in awe. Mostly I just try to appreciate.
My ancestors were awesome! They were civil servants, newspapermen, tinkers, and farmers. In the last few centuries it seems there was a lake involved. My Japanese side are Ikeda and Ikeshita, the “Rice Paddy by the Lake” and “Below the Lake,” respectively, and the Swiss side has long resided on the shores of Lake Zurich, wandering there over several generations from Walkringen in the Bernese mountains. They foraged for mushrooms, they picked and dried flowers and berries, they made liquor out of hardy alpine roots and crisp apples, traded with the folk who came by river from the lowlands. My Japanese ancestors traveled to the city, they paid in gold and silver for precious powders made by priests who had learned the medicine in China. My ancestors were bathhouse tenders, preachers, innkeepers. At some point they were millers. But mostly farmers and herders. And before that, for a long, long time, my ancestors – and your ancestors too! - were tracking and hunting other Animals and digging in the dirt for tubers. They were warming themselves around the fire, they were snuggled together in furs, they washed and reveled in the cold water of the stream, they looked up at the starry sky and wondered. We are still basically them, plus a bunch of technology and brainwashing.
My ancestors were awesome. Yours were awesome too; all their adventures and love affairs resulted in you.
So, I say, learn what we can from our awesome ancestors! Don’t take so seriously the trappings of status and society. They’re not what make you happy, and they’re certainly not what make you healthy.
Fortunately, there’s no need to turn into an obsessed and fanatical extremist. This is not paleo-nonsense, it is not juicing and colonics and 100% organic grass-fed buffalo meat. It’s just common sense. One could say, Horse Sense. Eat real food. Move your body. Play. Love. Stuff like that.
I am Simple Horse. I invite you to join me on the Way of the Caveman Healer.
Happy New Year 2014, Year of the Wood Horse! May you gallop free and strong! May the rains fall and the plants grow! Blessings blessing blessings to all!