"Don't Stand, Don't Stand, Don't Stand So Close to Me!" She'd sing the words over and over again. Then Janice would let out a huge laugh and start again. Staff told me as I watched her that she's 'stim' to one song for a week or so then move on to another more current song. She'd sing only snatches of the song over and over again. Laughing. Loving the song. Loving the singing. Loving the moment. Janice would become the song, become the singer, the music didn't change her, it transformed her, she became something more, much more than anyone thought she was.
Tracy would lay for hours curled into a little ball. Little interest in the world outside her head, she would be dressed without resistance and sat in a chair limply. She showed little interest as the day's routines flew by her. But when she got on the bed she'd curl up tight, a hand that did nothing else with real purpose would grab the blanket and pull it up over her shoulders and she'd sink into the bed. You could see her disappear from the ward, from the institution, into the great 'somewhere, anywhere, else'. Catch her in the right light, peer under the blanket, and where ever she was must have been nice because she was smiling.
Discovered by a happy accident, Darlene became an addict. Staff brought in leftovers from home. You could smell the curry as it heated up in the microwave. Darlene's eyes, usually unfocused from all the behaviour contol drugs, found the source. She stood by the microwave just breathing in. Her first taste of curry brought tremors to her body. She shook with pleasure. Curry was her drug of choice. It was easy to make her happy. A little taste and she was transported. Out of her body, out of care and into a sensuous world of pure pleasure. It was a treat to watch.
Being there at these transformations, disappearances and resurrections remind me that it's always possible to be transported, to be changed, to be removed - that simple pleasures are meant for complex purposes. That we, by touch, by taste, by sound, can be spoken to in a universal way. That we, through the body, can always commune with something greater. That we, through our connection and commonality, are much more than human and much less than divine.
I am therefore constantly reminded ...
that we are made to remember vanilla and to forget vanity.
It is this lesson, constantly relearned, that I value most.
If that makes any sense at all.