We can't live every moment, or even every day, at the same level of importance. It's exhausting, and I'm afraid it's become our habit. It was a revelation the other day when it occurred to me that whatever thing I was doing? It wasn't that important. It didn't warrant the stress or the energy or the tension or the breath-holding I was affording it.
This is not that important. It's become my new mantra, and I can't tell you what a relief it is. We forget, you see, that very rarely are we faced with a life-or-death situation. We forget because we've tuned our stress response so acutely that it responds to the slightest stimuli.
Our bodies are ruling our minds. Or vice versa. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that this, most of this? It's not that important.
Despite how hard it can be, I like to think that the universe is not only benevolent, but actively engaged in our good. Because why not? What do I know? We didn't know why, after all, our parents rationed our Halloween candy or made us eat dinner before dessert until much later. And certainly we were angry, and certainly we deemed it unfair. But most of us can now thank our parents for the majority of those decisions, made on our part, when our own unchecked wants would have destroyed us.
So, yes, it's hard to hear 'no,' and sometimes it's hard to keep going when you want to quit, but I have to believe there's someone up there or out there with a global perspective, nudging us along for our highest good.
You do have to wonder, when you're awake in the middle of the night worrying about something as mundane and supposedly joyful as gardening, if you've really lost it and fallen between the cracks of nightmare and habitual anxiety. And you have to slap yourself out of it, saying aloud, 'Um, excuse me, but what the hell are you doing with your precious and impressive brain?'
And, more often than not, come morning, it all seems so silly, so you chalk it up to restless dreams, but I wonder if there's a lesson in that--that surrendering to it in the moment (the anxiety, the worry, the nightmare) will free us from the fear of recurrence. That maybe if we learn to sit with the anxiety--silly or not--we'll develop a tolerance. We'll vaccinate ourselves against our own sabotage.
For those of you who have been there, you'll know what I mean when I say that hunger can be addictive--the clean, sharpness of it can make you feel simultaneously light, strong, and invincible. But you pay a terrible price for it. Beneath that illusion of clean, honed lines is the anxiety of a person just trying to do the best she can in the only way she knows how, clinging onto control wherever she can.
The scariest thing in the world is the letting go. The unknown is scary, yes, but releasing one's grasp on strict self-control is scarier than that. Our hands are frozen and cramped from the clutching, and it's okay that it's going to take us some time, not only to release the grip, but to get some feeling back into our extremities.
Hindsight, while necessary to avoid disaster, I suppose, can be an evil, evil ability. Looking back and wishing for otherwise is as useless as trying to teach a toddler to walk by yelling, "It's easy! Just put one foot in front of the other!"
Everything seems obvious from a distance. But, you know, some things just have to be lived through. Some falls have to be taken, and though we may repeat our habits, our destructive patterns, over and over and over again, eventually we find a moment between them, and eventually that moment will be long enough for us to gain some perspective. The danger, though, is not forgiving ourselves in that moment.
Forgiveness is the antidote to destruction. Forgive yourself as often as you can and then move forward--no looking back.
In a world where shame seems to be both currency and language, it's hard to love ourselves at all, much less more each day. Speaking as someone for whom self-love doesn't come easily, I think it's maybe the only thing we *can* do. It's the only kindness guaranteed to heal whatever mentally, physically, spiritually ails us.
But it means we have to love all of it--and sometimes that is so exquisitely painful that it feels like failure. But I think it must be the opposite of failure and that, with practice, one day it will feel like it.
It doesn't matter what your habit is--lark or owl. When you're awake, be fully awake. To be fully awake, I think, is the only thing that will guarantee sleep. To fully accept your situation at this moment in the world is the biggest act of rebellion you can undertake. It is fierce and wild to show up as yourself. Do it enough, and the powers that be won't know what to make of (or do with) you. That's when you'll know you're free.
It's funny really--we've been followers for so long, I'm not sure we even know who's up there leading us. Or maybe we do, but it's become habit--following trends, people, fashion. We've forgotten that maybe we weren't the ones who made these choices, that maybe they were made for us and we just shrugged and nodded and kept up our slow shuffle.
Well. I think it's high time this follower, at least, put down the map and started charting by her own stars.