I went for a massage the other day, as I do on occasion. Having dealt with health issues in the past, I discovered their capacity to nourish the immune system, and thus enhance the body’s ability to self-heal. Although now in good health, the habit of going for an occasional massage has continued. They are a wonderful treat. For those of you who’ve had the experience, you know what I am talking about. For those who haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Not long into the session, I began to slip into a semi-conscious state, as is often the case, drifting somewhere between sleep and synthetic free fall. Neurons hummed in blissful cadence as chakras began toking on the zenergy of air, earth, ether, and even the therapist – who just happened to be an extremely attractive little spirit indeed. Lysandra was her name, I believe.
In my trance-like state, thoughts dislocated and ran uninhibited through fields of dreams. Abstract neural imagery merged with physical ecstasy as my body continued to throttle down and offload stress by diastolic degrees. If ever a case could be made for heaven on earth, it was moments like these that would be convincing evidence for such a case.
Enjoying the rub, as she worked her hands across my back, I was reminded of an article I had read about massage just a few weeks prior. The article theorized that the reason a massage feels so good is, at least in part, due to neural anticipation - the fact that you don’t know exactly where the therapist is going to go next keeps your nerves on their toes, so to speak; and your body alive with the thrill of wonder. An easy way to demonstrate this, according to the article, was to rub on yourself for a moment. Massage your arm or shoulder and see how it feels. You’ll note that, although it feels okay, there’s really no comparison to the high voltage delight of being rubbed by another. This is because you know exactly where you are going with your next move; there’s no anticipation, no drama, no uncertainty, no wonder.
As my mind continued to ponder this notion, Lysandra shifted aft to work my lower body, moving with the free flowing grace of a ballerina. Although she was fairly young, maybe mid-twenties, she was clearly experienced. With the shift in location, my mind did the same, taking the line of thinking and seeing if it could be somehow twisted with writing - which is the ultimate fate of most thoughts that sashay through my brain these days. And in this case, it didn’t take long to make the connection between the joy of massage and the joy of reading. I realized right away that anticipation while reading is indeed a key element, at least from my view, in the level of pleasure derived from plot and prose alike.
By natural course of thought, I then reflected back on some of my favorite books, (Jurassic Park, The Positronic Man, Red Dragon) and sure enough, anticipation was, among other factors, a direct corollary to whether I enjoyed a book or not. The anticipation of not knowing what was coming next kept brain cells delightfully confused and heightened with amorphous anxiety, and often kept me reading late into the night. I found the connection between massage and reading quite cool, especially while prone on the table, and still buzzing from endorphin overload. It’s amazing what the brain will concoct while broadcasting alpha-wave test patterns.
My mind must have chewed on this thread of thought for some time because before I knew it, Lysandra was asking me to turn over so she could work on my front side, and finish up. Shaking free of the zero-G coma I’d slipped into, I complied, completely unaware that there was even a world beyond the small candlelit cubicle surrounding us. As I settled into a comfy position, and Lysandra slipped a pillow under my head, my mind almost immediately picked up on the analogy it had been ruminating on for some time - the comparison between the pleasure derived from massage, and that of reading a great book. Anticipation, uncertainty, surprise were all definitely hallmarks in the excellence of each. Lysandra then began to work her way down my torso, slowly massaging silky circles over my abs. And as her hands ventured lower, I found myself wondering, with the same anticipation I feel when I’m deep within the plot of a really cool novel. I can’t wait to find out if this story will have a happy ending.