In honor of the recent opening of my new energy healing studio, I spent several hours trying to find a way to reorganize this blog site to keep Vietnam and Reiki separate. At first it was a technical problem. How could I describe, in google-terms, that I wanted to sub-divide my site so that if I posted something about Vietnam it would stay in the Vietnam box while a post about Reiki would stay in the Reiki box, neither visible to the other? No one else seemed to want to do that, though, which made me wonder why I did.

My new focus has only strengthened my conviction that there is much work left to heal the war in Vietnam. I have no interest in the current wave of remembrances of each successive landmark of a 50-year-old war, beyond thinking, “wow, seriously? It’s been fifty years??” I don’t care about particular battles. I don’t care about particular protests. I care about particular stories.

Michael Herr ends his stunning Dispatches with this lament:

Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam. We’ve all been there.

Which isn’t literally true, of course, except in the sense that it is, after all, true. I don’t know what Herr meant (and I can no longer ask him, may he rest in peace) but I can explore the meaning for myself. “Vietnam” means the surreal clash of truth and lies, the subversion of the American image of itself, the strange twisting of expectations, the haunting darkness of an unacknowledged reality. It means a disconnect between what the eyes see and what the mind, often aided by official declarations, insists must be true. And still insists, even decades later.

The mind, insisting, creates a darkness that everyone around it knows is there but can’t engage. In her extraordinary graphic novel, Thi Buy, the child of refugees from Vietnam, says:

And though my parents took us far away from the site of their grief … certain shadows stretched far, casting a gray stillness over our childhood … hinting at a darkness we did not understand … but could always feel.

The darkness draws others in, shapes their world without being talked about. Left unaddressed, the darkness persists for generations. And when truth – what happened – is not acknowledged, its deeper truth learned, the collective mind creates an embodiment of the lies, and then falls prey to them.

This has huge implications for where we are today. It is why I began practicing Reiki.

Reiki reaches into that deeper level, without needing words to get there. It gives comfort, balance, and the kind of relaxation that leads to renewed energy and purpose. I use Reiki for courage and empowerment, for acceptance and compassion. I am not a “love and light” practitioner. For me Reiki works “on the ground” or, really, not at all. It picks people up, dusts them off, and tells them to go back out there and do the work they have been given to do. I do this because it is going to take a lot of particular stories being told and particular stories being healed to put the broken pieces back together.


Ordnance fragment turned into a planter, Project Renew, Dong Ha, Vietnam