A light in the dark

flashligh

I am at the bottom of a deep hole, maybe an old well, trying to figure out what happened. The darkness is suffocating and heavy as I try to stand. Nothing is broken. I feel my arms to be sure a bone isn’t sticking out where it doesn’t belong. I’m just a little sore and confused. So that’s good, but it is dark and creepy. I am afraid of the dark, so this is bad.

Fear sets in spreading from my chest outwards, reaching my head and feet at the same moment.

Frantically I try to find my flashlight. It came down with me so it must be here. My fingers are my eyes now; they are both far and nearsighted as they adjust to their new role. I feel my way over the muck, decaying leaves and twigs, walnuts, trash and still no flashlight.

The rotting debris stinks and I am panicking. If I could still the thousand thoughts in my head, I might try to use the Litany of Fear. Reading all of those Dune books need not be in vain. Fear is the mind-killer…

That’s not happening because I’m gagging, the stench surrounds me and I’m covered in this muck. Bile rises in my throat. Mouth breathing makes it worse; the smell is so pungent I can taste it in the air.

Vomit will not improve my current environment, although I’m not sure if I have a choice as the bile continues on its path upwards.

Mind over matter, mind over matter, I tell myself and swallow hard. Briefly, I consider that the nausea could also be related to a possible concussion. Not knowing how long I was out from the fall, I am only certain that it is night and that the nausea is passing.

I dig for the flashlight. It won’t get me out of this pit if I do find it, but it will give me the comfort of light. Light is a reminder that I am human and therefore a conqueror of the dark.

Unfortunately, I am not the conqueror of anything, aside from the urge to vomit which may only be temporary. My only power is that of patience to wait for the first light of the day. I can be patient.

I feel hope for the new day.

Then something moves, squishing through the muck towards me.

Fear ties my stomach into knots and makes my heart pound. Needles of pain shoot out from my neck and scalp. I am deaf, dumb, and blind in this hole with patience as my only defense and acutely aware that I am not alone.

I was never alone.

On following recommendations

sun 2

In general, in-door tanning is not recommended (that is. if the CDC can be trusted).

It has something to do with the increased risk of skin cancer for each minute spent under the golden, glowing bulbs. In spite of the well-known and scientifically supported evidence of this, I still decided to take the risk last week. The temptation of feeling warm light on my face after what seemed like an eternity of cold and grey weather was too great to resist. After all, it was free tan week.

When I entered the tanning salon, it was packed with other pale faced Hoosiers. I was surprised that so many other people were able to disregard such strong warnings of danger associated with tanning beds. Just then, a red faced, blonde teen burst through the door, bringing with her a whiff of tanning lotion and burned skin.

We reached the counter at the same time and she started drumming the countertop with French-tipped nails, like she was in a hurry to catch skin cancer. I took a more leisurely approach, assuming that the cancer, premature wrinkling, and sun spots would wait for me as long as it took to check into a bed.

The cashier raised her perfectly manicured eyebrow at the blonde who continued to tap on the counter.

“Hi, I just tanned earlier today across town and I wanted to tan again. Is that ok?”

This is where someone with common sense should have intervened to stop the proposed baking of the girl’s organs. I, for one, was mesmerized by the humming of the machines and hot air escaping from the cracks in the line of doors and wasn’t about to stand in anyone’s way.

“Oh, you want to double dip,” the cashier said.

Smiling, the girl nodded in the simple pleasure of being understood in so few words.

“Of course, you can. We actually recommend it on free tan week.”

My jaw dropped and then I looked around for that person with common sense whom I expected to step in just a few seconds earlier. Surely that person would intervene now.

“In fact,” the cashier continued and stepped away from the counter and produced a colorful bottle from underneath of it, “we recommend that you use this lotion afterwards to seal in all that color you will get.”

“I’ll take it,” the girl said. The price and/or risk were of no concern.

As I pulled the lid of my tanning bed over my body and started the machine, I reflected on what just happened and decided the following about recommendations. 1. People lie to people who don’t want the truth. 2. We get just what we are willing take. 3. Winter in the Midwest is depressing, so I took 20 minutes of safe and recommended artificial sun.

Image: www.educationalservice.net

Other recommendations on tanning, for the interested reader:

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/indoor_tanning.htm
http://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/tanning
http://www.skincancer.org/news/tanning/international
http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning/hooked-on-tanning