Thursday, September 27, 2007


I took the plastic splint off my finger just now because I figured like any living thing it needed to breathe a bit. Well, it doesn't smell like a living thing, or completely healthy anyway. My finger smells like my son.See, when you are a caregiver to your child it is up to you to monitor their health, and the lizard brain part of us knows that smell is a powerful indicator of conditions out there. Somebody hands you a child and you will sniff the air even if you don't realize it at the time. So here's a way to share: take a pair of cotton socks and put them on. Put on a pair of sneakers, old or new, it doesn't matter. Now wade in a piece of natural water, and by that I mean like a stream, pond or ditch. Walk around for a day in this foot gear and then sit down, take off the sneakers, take off the socks and then bring that foot as close to your nose as possible and sniff. That smell of saturated flesh and bacterial growth is the smell of a person who keeps their hands clinched due to contractures of the tendons, like for years at a time. I roll a washcloth, dry, and stuff it into Jon's grip so instead of clinching hand, he's clinching something else, something dry and pretty sterile.

What's happening to my finger with that plastic splint and tape is the water stays in place, the water extracted from my finger itself and the water in the air. The skin has more than it can handle and conditions melt down, like when you invade a country, disband it's army and police force and open all the doors. Like that. It stinks to high heaven, but it also stinks to hell. It basically smells all wrong, even if you don't know what could make it right, at least you know something's wrong.

What would be your self image if you yourself smelled different and wrong? How would YOU feel if in front of you were two hands all twisted and shrunken, oblivious to your suggestions? One of my fingers is swollen, stitched, stinks and is the wrong color. But I know, in my heart, that it is healing, because in large part I have faith in my doctor. He knows my name, he jokes with me and he is careful when he handles my hand. Oftentimes Jon is spoken to by another name because his forms show his full name but there is no space for the name by which he used to be called. When you are trying to call forth a demon or a god you need to know their true name. When you are trying to catch the attention of and cooperation of a person it would seem obvious that you should use the name they most identify with. For instance, a metaphor: my finger smells like a well worn, damp sock just released from a sneaker. The skin is white and peeling off here and there and too pink elsewhere. If I call it "My Finger" I don't really feel comfortable because it neither acts like my finger, nor smells like my finger. It's in the right spot, but all else is a question mark. When my son looks down at his body or at a mirror if they have one there, he sees a strange contortion of a person, ageless and twisted, nothing like the drumming, dancing, driving, dog-loving young man who left to work in Arizona over 7 years ago.

I have to be patient for my skin to heal, but my finger will always be bent and different. They tell me nothing can be the same after such a trauma and I have faith they are right about that. I understand how such things can happen, even to nice guys like me and my son Jon.

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