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The Night of the Iguana

“Everything old is new again,” the adage says, and that was our experience when we ‘channel-surfed’ onto the 1964 movie version of Tennessee Williams’ play, “The Night of the Iguana”; starring Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, and others.

While the whole story was a sojourn into a sense of surrealness, it’s ‘right-in-the-gut’ reality rose up and out through the heart of ‘Hannah Jelkes’, a self-described spinster from Nantucket, who travels the world with her 97-year-old grandfather - “the world’s oldest living and practicing poet” - moving from one hotel to the next, while Hannah picks up money doing sketches of the guests, and grandpa recites his poems.

At one point, ‘Hannah’ and ‘Shannon,’ (Rev. T. Lawrence Shannon) an Episcopal clergyman who, having been locked out of his church for “fornication and heresy,” and has been reduced to shepherding cut-rate bus tours through Mexico, share the truth of their current experience: Shannon speaks of his “panic,” and Hannah her “Blue Devil,” whom she has learned how to “endure.”

This idea of endurance is interesting: a ‘grin and bear it’ stoicism, combined with optimistic perseverance. Unfortunately for Shannon, he ‘medicates’ his panic with alcohol, while heroic Hannah “takes breaths.” She says: “Some people take a drink, some a pill, I take breaths.”

The Way of Endurance
Intrigued and inspired by Hannah’s bold simplicity, I wanted to gaze some more through her window to the world, so I “took some breaths,” followed my thoughts inward, and asked myself: What are a few things someone can do, to ward off the “Blue Devil,” or at least endure it?

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Practice Chi Kung and Tai Chi and cultivate the power of breath.
  • Use Oriental Medicine to balance the Kidney energy so you’re less susceptible to fear and anxiety.
  • Keep in mind Joseph Campbell’s wisdom on ‘transcendence”: Know it’s there, and then don’t worry about it. Simply behold the radiance everywhere.”

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    IMPORTANT: All information on this Web site is provided for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of a local Oriental Medicine practitioner, biomedical doctor, experienced coach, or martial arts instructor.