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Story Of Air & Metal
written by G. B. Pohoral

[Dedicated to Andrew Ellis, Nigel Wiseman, Ken Boss
for Fundamentals Of Chinese Acupuncture]

On another timeline - {Sometimes you can escape a particular timeline, sometimes you get stuck in a loop} So, once again: On another timeline, once upon a time - Time that waits for no one, that heals all wounds, that kills us all, and that definitely is not linear - there was a boy named Shin Shin, whose parents died in a tragic accident and left him alone and penniless -for the sake of my argument here. He was four-years-old then and understood not the impact of events till he was taken in to live with a family of a distant uncle. There he was no more than a servant, a beast of burden to those around.

Shin Shin worked hard to earn his keep, had no one to talk to or to hold him, and as time went by, instead of becoming hardened and strong, he became grief-stricken and fragile. After a long day's labor, he fell into the hey in the barn where he slept with the chickens, the pigs and the yak - and he cried himself to sleep. His sobs were so heart-rendering, his pity for himself so complete that he developed a hacking, gut-wrenching cough. He might have coughed his lungs out, had he not been delivered by a strange stroke of fate. Just to add here that another stroke of luck/fate was the amimals in his life. He learned an awful lot from these animals around him in the barn, and he helped them cope as well; petteted them at first, then did his best to heal them by removing thorns from their hides and massaging their sore backs...

Then one day a rickshaw passed by with a fine gentleman from a distant town inside, obviously looking for some merchant or other. The man hollered merrily after Shin Shin, "Come on, boy, run! Get some air into your lungs! Cheer up a little!

The boy heard none of the wisdom contained therein. Still, he responded to the command, being in the habit of responding to orders. So he started running. When he stopped, he was already in town, and not far behind the rickshaw that took him away from his grief.

He saw a dog on the street, performing for his master, doing tricks, and Shin Shin laughed, laughed for the first time since his folks had died. He felt such happiness then, such freedom from fetters, from his very past, his miserable existence up till then; it made him giddy. In his so quickly acquired clarity and presence of mind, the result of running some twenty miles, he immediately turned to the first passer-by, and asked where he could get hired as a rickshawman.

He found the place just as all the men were sitting down to dinner. And in his newly found cheerful spirit, Shin Shin was immediately liked by the owner, assessed to be a good investment - young, agile and slim - and was hired on the spot. Thus he ended up sitting down to several bowls of rice and stewed vegetables with his new family of kindred spirits.

Every day he'd get up at dawn and run the streets till dusk carrying wealthy patrons in his rickshaw. His feet were tattered and bleeding at first, but he'd feel no pain, just some incredible, unspeakable exhilaration and a certainty there was peace, justice, and sweetness in the universe.

After work, he'd sit among the other rickshawmen and observe their activities. Outside of eating rice and vegetables, the only food he'd see them eat, these men would practice fencing, matching each others' strength. For a sword was all the property they had in the world, and most didn't even have that. Shin Shin loved the heavy metallic clatter. To him it was music divine; it made his teeth chatter, like he was some ferret possessed by the sound of metal.

Air and metal - the elements he loved; the elements everybody around him loved and understood; the stuff that kept everybody sane and happy, wanting for nothing.

A new man arrived who brought no sword but who was not short of metal. His entire possession was a piece of white linen cloth in which he kept carefully wrapped many kinds of needles wrought from different kinds of metal. Some were an inch long, some were two inches long, of various strength and width. They glistened brightly as the man began inserting them into different parts of his body.

Shin Shin noticed first that the man always did on one foot as he did on the other - the same place for the needle to go in. The man's face showed concentration, and pleasure as he twisted some of these needles inside his flesh. The more he twisted the needles, the more relaxed and serene he'd become.

"Can you help me, Sir? Can you take me to the place where you got your needles?", Shin Shin asked bodaciously.

"First, my boy, you need to find out if you will like what these might do to you", the man nodded in the direction of his arms and legs full of needles.

After he had taken his needles out, which was usually about half an hour after he had inserted them, the man took Shin Shin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. There he emptied his cloth full of needles into a clean pot, filled the pot with water, and placed it over the fire. Some half hour later, the man with the boy collected the needles and returned to their quarters.

"Now, my lad", the man said, "sit yourself here and relax. This will be a strange experience for you, it being the first time. It may feel like the whole world is caving down on 'ya. But fear not, you'll find a way out and be truly delivered." Shin Shin understood nothing, but he was game.

The man took the boy's foot and examined it. The place where the bone of the big toe met the bone of the second toe - about an inch and a half from the base of the big toe - a spot Shin Shin already felt was tender to the touch, there the man inserted the first needle - precisely, expertly. And as the man twirled the needle, pulling it out then pushing it in again, in some mad sadistic act, Shin Shin glimpsed how much of a gift and saving-grace this art of needling was for humanity.

Shin Shin winced; his world tilted - layers of light like that he sometimes saw in the sky started shifting in his mind's eye, inside his body. Some metallic energy rising up inside him, meeting up with other currents of metallic energy, sweeping through his body, whirling, dancing . . . "Stop! Hurts! Too, too much!", Shin Shin called.

The man stopped and directed his attention to the other foot where he found the exact same spot and needled it. Shin Shin's reaction was about the same; the same revolutionary event was taking place inside his body. Painful, exhilarating, dizzying - he was lost in time and space, laying on a bamboo mat, breathing like the yogis, taking deep intakes of air, far deeper than while running all day.

The second pair of needles were inserted some three inches above the tip of the inner ankle. These needles were inserted and left in place without being manipulated.

"Did you feel that special sensation again", asked the man. "Yes, oh yes, but it wasn't as strong as before. It just stung a little; still there was that kind of tension release that goes with it", Shin Shin murmured, his eyes closed.

Then the man took Shin Shin's arm, flexed his elbow, and inserted a needle in the depression at the end of the elbow's crease. Subsequently, he repeated the procedure on the other arm.

The sensation was strong both times; it almost knocked Shin Shin's breath out. But immediately after, he felt new strength.

The last pair of needles were placed in the depression where the index finger and thumb bones meet. And Shin Shin was not prepared. Even while the man probed the spot on the boy's right hand, and pressed his own thumb firmly in the web between the boy's thumb and his index fingers, Shin Shin felt the pain.

"You're too young to be so grieved and angered, my boy", the man said pensively.

It took a long time to place the last two needles. Shin Shin cried in pain several times. And the man had to stop - either, inserting the needle, or twirling it in place - so that he wouldn't hurt the boy unduly. After the man had finished, Shin Shin fell apart completely, sobbing like a baby.

He suddenly saw the whole of his miserable past parading before him - his parents' demise, which he didn't realize he had been a witness to; his hard work at the farm; the beatings he received. And the man wrapped Shin Shin in a quilt and held him like he would a baby in swaddling clothes, mindful of the needles, rocking him gently till he stopped crying and fell asleep.

When he woke up, almost an hour later, Shin Shin felt great. From that day forth, Shin Shin became a serious student of the art of needling. The man had taught him how to read and write so that the boy could record his new findings and read books of all the ancient masters of the healing art. He bought his own set of needles right away, and found in a short time that all the points the man had done on him no longer hurt the second or third time he tried them. The experience was actually pleasurable.

And he looked forward to the release of tension, and the deep breathing that he could engage in while the treatment was in progress. He treated himself for everything - a pink eye; influenza, lack of energy, sadness, loneliness, food poisoning, and anger.

When he started treating others, he was only seventeen-years-old and he was a master, having learned from a master, and being a natural healer, as all the ones before him who experienced grief in abundance.

Healing others was something else entirely. He found out that he had a hard time keeping his own energy intact. Not knowing how to protect himself from the energy of others, whose energy he'd absorb through the needles, he felt helpless. Sometimes he would get sick from the toxins that coursed through his body. He'd feel confused and befuddled then, walking around in circles, talking to himself.

He was quickly beginning to see that those who were real healers couldn't always heal because they could die as a result. While those who practiced healing had neither talent nor inclination to do so except for being motivated by lucre. It made him laugh, and it made him sad too. The Supreme Being had a strange sense of humor, Shin Shin thought.

Finally, after about a couple of years, he had a breakthrough. He started teaching people how to heal themselves, teaching them how to use needles, just like he was taught himself.

Teaching people how to take responsibility for their own health became Shin Shin's life work. Making people understand how their bodies worked, how to exercise them, what to feed them, what emotions hurt them and how to let go of such harmful feelings, all that was something he was amazingly good at.

He lived for a long time, acquiring neither possessions nor children - {After all he was an Atlas/a mere faciliator of others, on his timeline - And he wasn't big on acquisitions} . Then one day when he was already one hundred and sixty six years old, he left for one of his routine, long-distance runs that took him through the forests, plains and the desert, and the last anybody saw of him was his ponytail bobbing in the distance. He didn't return, and no one ever found his remains.

His teaching manuals had no doubt turned to dust, but I access them through my dreams, when I browse through my chosen files in the Akashic library of the Overworlds.
- {*There often is a thin line between a Bardo state and a newly discovered - past or future timeline; one minute you're LOST, the next minute you're FOUND.}

[A short story, by G. B. Pohoral, 5/14/96/Boulder Creek, CA ©1996. G. B. Pohoral.]

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More Fiction:
Courting Number Three / Synopsis Vol I. / Chapter 1, Vol II. /

©1996-2021. G. B. Pohoral.

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