I paused for a few moments to take in the panorama. Absolutely beautiful.
I was sitting on top of a mountain pass looking down through the outstretching valley below. Mountain ridges rose parabolically, expanding outward and then opening up to a gorgeous vista. More mountains in the distance shrouded in a light bluish haze. The product of wind-blown dust and the sun’s rays bending around all of those tiny particles. Photons bouncing through a prism, the colors and shadows changing constantly with Sol’s rotation.
The undulating hills bore the tracks of water courses, washes that were bone-dry now but would rapidly fill in the monsoon rains. Rains that would carve. The softness of water overpowering the hardness of basalt, granite, and rhyolite. Like a sculptor of the landscape etching images that can best be scene from this bird’s-eye view.
Volcanic remains from a once violent explosion. The center of the caldera sinking as millions of tons of smoke, ash, and debris filled the sky, blotting out the sun until the jet stream cleared the airways. Once molten rock now overgrown with sagebrush, Mexican feather grass, manzanita, brittle brush, turpentine brush, prickly pears, mesquite, pinyon pine, alligator juniper, and scrub oak.
A light, warm wind blows as black hawks sore at dazzling heights – eye-level now that I’m at the peak. I speak to them and offer thanks for their company. A roadrunner scurries across the path in front of me carrying a freshly caught spiny lizard. Life. Predator and prey. A continuous cycle.
There’s no other human soul around me and I’m basking in eternal peace. Yet there is another battle silently raging in the recesses of my mind and body. Ever pressing its way into the forefront of my consciousness. An insidious illness that many doctors refuse to acknowledge even though some seven million Americans are afflicted. Symptoms growing from minute exposures. Triggering a cascade of molecular hysteria. The body unable to compensate.
I found myself rapidly getting dizzy. My brain was becoming foggy and then the headache came. I noticed my heart beat was irregular, sometimes slowing down, and other times speeding up. Skipping beats. And there was the abdominal pain and nausea. It was difficult to navigate to find a place to rest. My voice cracked, became hoarse, it was difficult to speak. There was short-term memory loss, the immediate short-term, making small instant decisions difficult.
You might think I had been poisoned. Inhaled some insecticide by accident. Perhaps a farmer spraying crops in the distance.
Or maybe I could have spilled some rat poison or gasoline on my hands. Drank some polluted water. Walked through the thick smoke of a brush fire. Breathed paint fumes in a freshly painted house or from a recently stain deck. Or maybe it was formaldehyde or ethylene. Gassing-off of furniture or from the upholstery and plastic dashboard of the car.
All of these factors, and more, can be triggers. But all I had done was get dressed.
You see, clothing manufactures are spraying all types of noxious chemicals on clothes now. To make them last longer, wear better, not catch on fire, and not smell when we sweat. Or to kill bugs when they’re shipped. No different than the farmer spraying the crops.
Then there are the chemical detergents the clothes were washed in. Or the washing machine and dryer themselves. Now contaminated with chemical residues from past loads.
Chemicals that are truly poisonous, but which most people, at least for the moment, can tolerate in small amounts. Some of us aren’t so fortunate. Our bodies have become overwhelmed by all the toxins and we can’t clear our systems of them any longer. Smaller amounts begin producing bigger reactions all the time. It’s called toxicant-induced loss of intolerance.
And there’s no escape.
It began with a reaction to chemicals used to tan and waterproof leather. A new pair of hiking boots. And then exploded to any clothing, soaps and detergents, sunscreens, shaving creams, etc. Anything that may contain any type of rubber accelerator, biocidic agent, or chromate. Foods, now saturated with pesticides and herbicides and preservatives, can trigger it. Molds, that produce endotoxins that gas-off or are carried by their microscopic spores, once inhaled, can debilitate.
This condition goes by various names. Multiple chemical sensitivity, environmental illness, sick building syndrome, idiopathic environmental intolerance, ecologic illness, total allergy syndrome, and the 20th Century disease. In terms of our military veterans, this can manifest as Gulf War Syndrome or Agent Orange disability.
One of the hindrances for doctors accepting the existence of the disease is their disagreement on how to define and name it. It also doesn’t quite fit the traditional allergen-antibody reaction. Instead of having hives, or a runny nose, watering eyes and difficulty breathing, the reaction is nuerotoxic, like a poisoning.
Despite the AMA’s denial, there is so much information about this disease and its various manifestations that I won’t attempt to try to cover it all. Treatment is extremely limited and primarily consists of avoidance and boosting the body’s natural ability to detoxify. Kind of hard to avoid clothing 🙂
Some medications can lessen symptoms but there is no treatment to my knowledge that is getting to the root cause – an increasingly toxic planet caused by human occupation and alleged progress.
If you find this concept hard to wrap your mind around consider this, there are some 85,000 chemical compounds licensed by the FDA for commercial use in America. And very few have been tested for safety. The umbilical cord blood of infants in this country, just prior to their birth, before they have even taken their first breath, test positive for up to 287 industrial chemicals with an average of 200 per baby. These chemicals include: polyaromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, furans, pesticides, flame retardants, industrial lubricants, plastics, consumer product ingredients, wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage, lead, mercury, methylmercury, perfluorochemicals (PFCs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), to name but a few.
So, as I hike through this paradise of nature my mind grows cloudy and my body becomes weary. A contrast of pristine beauty flooding my senses with intoxicating images, forms and scents. A vision that is totally energizing and invigorating, while the body betrays and is overwhelmed with fatigue. Predator and prey . . . the continuing cycle that none of us can escape. But perhaps our predator has become ourselves.
Postscript: Sometimes I believe that the Source strips away many of the material distractions in our lives to get us to focus on spiritual development. You are compelled to pay attention to those matters of soul growth. Our mission in life is not to work and pay bills and engage in immediate sense gratification. There is so much more about getting to and experiencing our true essence. I believe that this is one of those times.
Photo: Sitting on top of a mountain in the southwestern desert, gazing though the valley formed by an old volcanic caldera.
Language for “Chapter 7” in the title: I know you’ve all noticed that I’ve been using different languages in the titles of these chapters I’ve themed as “Contrasts.” Today’s choice was Amharic the Semitic language descended from Ge’ez that is the official language of Ethiopia. I enjoy marveling at different languages as I explained in my post “Like.”
Prior Chapters of Contrasts:
Contrasts – Kapitel 1
Contrasts – Hoofstuk 2: Which Animals Do You Watch?
Contrasts – κεφάλαιο 3 – Cabrillo National Monument
Contrasts – Chapitre 4 – Two Museums
Contrasts– 第5章 – Wild Spaces
Contrasts – Isahluko 6 – Southwest versus Midwest
Case Definitions for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
A Report on Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
How many toxins is your baby getting in the womb?
Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns: Detailed Findings
What is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Amputated Lives: Coping with Chemical Sensitivity by Alison Johnson Chapter 2 The Elusive Search for a Place to Live
Chemical Sensitivity Foundation Research Bibliography
Seminar explores multiple chemical sensitivities topic
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
Link Rot: As always, I cannot predict how long a hyperlink on the Net will hang around. They tend to disappear over time or be hijacked to other sites, but they were current at the time I referenced them.