It’s been a very chaotic month. The continuation of my fourth year of schooling in Classical Chinese Medicine has been profoundly destabilizing in a number of ways. I haven’t been able to get my feet under me. This feeling has been further accentuated by the political and social climate, as well as particular personal situations I find myself embroiled in. But, it’s really been the academic side of things that has been the most difficult to take.
The details are largely unimportant. I do think there’s something important in all of it. As a person who is absolutely committed to being a lifelong scholar and practitioner of Classical Chinese Medicine, as a person who has taken the better part of four years to even begin to understand what that means, as a person who has had the unique and wonderful opportunity to work with a variety of folks who have done what I want to do, I have come to seen the difficulty of this task before me.
The difficulty has something to do with the nature of the medicine itself – it is variegated, multi-layered, mysterious, divine. It is the product of thousands of years of histories in more than one country, in more than one political climate, touched and shaped by hundreds of thousands, even millions, of practitioners. The difficulty also has something to do with the particular place and time where I find myself.
The way I was raised as a 20th century American kid, the rocky adjustment to the 21st century we’re all making, the political climate of the United States today along with its interpenetration by the world’s political climate, the way that Chinese medicine is practiced in the US… all of this and so much more. The difficulty also, of course, has something to do with just me. Just me as a human being, flawed and persistently stubborn. I imagine I’m not the only person who has had some difficulty figuring out how to be an excellent and integral practitioner of this medicine in the 21st century West.
Over the last four or five weeks, I’ve been challenged on multiple fronts. I’ve had my confidence rocked in clinic. I’ve wondered about my focus. I’ve worried about my ability to integrate all the material before me. I’ve struggled to make things fit, time-wise. I’ve panicked about boards, about business planning and about various administrative problems. I’ve felt thoroughly dispersed.
Then came the steely cold rains of another Pacific Northwest autumn. And with all the agitated heat of late summer, washed away were the bulk of my worries and strivings. Through the clear Fall air I could see my problems perfectly, I could see solutions in the distance against the backdrop of Mount Hood. With each purifying breath, I felt my energy renewed.
The gifts of the metal energy of Autumn. I ready myself for intensive consolidation, for the pulling inward of the winter – for warm fires safe under the roof being pounded by rain, for squash soup and roasted potatoes, for Moxa on Zu San Li (Stomach-36) every morning with my tea. Most of all, I welcome the descent into the certainty of my future, for the birth of my scholarhood, for the resting in the calmness of the deep watery ocean of my destiny.
Every year, the five elements and their associations become even more potent as my teachers.
About Eric Grey
Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.