Pattern is not the same as routine--I just want to put that out there for all my Type-A brothers and sisters who love a good, steady, reliable, comfortable routine, amen and hallelujah. No, patterns are altogether different creatures. While routine is a conscious choice, a lifestyle choice over which we have control, patterns are habits we fall into, universal maps of criteria that we seem, more often than not, doomed to repeat, consciously or subconsciously. A good therapist would probably call it self-sabotage.
Too, more often than not, we're unaware of them or aware of them only after the fact--after we realize we're in the *same* relationship *again,* or that we snapped at our spouse/partner/loved one *again* even though we told ourselves we wouldn't. Or we ate the cake, smoked the cigarette, drank the beer and made a fool of ourselves *again.* It's that dreaded "again" that's our first clue, as in, "I can't believe I did that AGAIN."
There is always a thaw--that's become my inadvertent motto for 2018. I haven't felt it, not as a warming on the skin or a shedding of layers, but I can see the sun through the windows and sometimes that's poetry enough to keep us just this side of inspired, just this side of freezing to death.
This is January. This is when we remember our strength and our ability to generate, to maintain, our own heat.
I like feeling unimportant in the scheme of things. I like the reassurance of having a role to play, one small thing that chimes in (a triangle, perhaps) here and there within and around the whole giant orchestral work-in-progress. I don't want to make the rules (or write the score, if we aim to stick to the same metaphor, but as I'm not a musician, it's probably best we leave it there), but I do love to interpret them, to digest them, to intuit how and why and where this piece will unfold or that one will be revealed.
We do not make the world turn. If we were to take a day of rest, life would continue--I find that an enormous relief. I can control my little world, the ten-foot-or-so radius in which I travel, but outside of that, I play by different rules, sharing responsibility with tides and winds, arctic fronts and heat waves.
I can't tell you how many times a day my inner monologue begins, "I don't want..." I also can't tell you, because it's alarming and I'd rather not say, how many daily tasks arrive on that 'do not want' list--and we're not talking things like politics, violence, or societal upset. I mean, those things don't even make the list most days--that's how crowded with the mundane this little mental tally sheet has become.
Here's the question--how much energy, how much resentment, how much anger leaks out from the cracks generated by the sheer causticity of this list? It's got to be unmeasurable and it's got to be taking its toll. So what if we were to embrace, to offer welcome, to these unwanted arrivals? I know what you're thinking--we seem to have this fear that if we welcome what we don't want, we'll get more of what we don't want. So let me ask you this--how has that strategy been working for you? Has the stubborn refusal to acknowledge the daily drudgery with anything other...
I feel like I'm losing the details--not unlike, as a kiddo, hearing the ice cream truck and, instead of taking the whole change purse, gathering all of your change in your hands, spilling it as you race for the door. Like that--I keep spilling details.
But here's the thing--I'm not at all sure of their importance. I list them in my head in the middle of the night, too lazy to write them down (a la the intelligence of the change purse), and by morning, they've gone. I don't think I miss them, but I miss the time I spent gathering them.
So why? Control, I suppose? Easier to sift details through your fingers, despite the fact they could be easily converted into larger currency, taking up less space, less weight. Why else? Well, the whole is awfully big and, if we let ourselves, we feel awfully unimportant, awfully small, awfully helpless.
But I think that's a perspective we can shift. Sure, the brushstrokes are interesting and academically stimulating up close, but only whe...
I have always been aware of how not alone we are at any given moment, in any given place. But then, I grew up hearing voices and spending nights in my grandparents' quite haunted house, so there's that.
Nonetheless, I've always been comfortable with, and found comfort in, the inexplicable nature of spirit. It's such a relief to have a collection of worlds that we can't micromanage, pick apart, predict, or muddy in the messiness that is part and parcel of having a body, of having an ego.
It's lovely to think of history wafting around us, reminding us that maybe this day/week/year drags on, but the rest goes so quickly.
A reminder to remember spirit because that's where we are infinite.
Reacting is a choice. I know that, but I knew it in the 'yeah, yeah' way of looking in both directions before crossing the street, clocking your surroundings before walking to your car at night--you know, things you know but often dismiss for the sake of time-saving. Or laziness.
But I started thinking about it this weekend, for no other reason than I found myself in one of those rare moments of witnessing my own thoughts from a distance. It was a lightbulb moment--*you don't HAVE to give this your attention; it is not asking that of you, and by imposing your own attention, your own frizzled energy, you don't block it or end it or avoid it--you feed it.*
It's entirely possible to sit back, prop up your feet, and watch the uncomfortable moment come in, like you'd watch the tide gain the beach, then recede.
Discomfort, I think, is more a spectator sport than one requiring full-body contact. And, really, we don't have to play.
Sometimes I find myself holding onto everything so tightly, so wound up that I can't control the weather, another's happiness, another's frustration, the world, my backyard, the power company.
It's impossible. And I know that. I know it's impossible to control anything but the colors I'm wearing, the food I eat, the music accompanying my day. Those things are lovely. Those things are reassuring.
And that's where my energy must go these days,
despite its insistance on leaking into the world behind me.
A shift in perspective is old news. It takes a frustrating amount of mental energy and is often done grudgingly--like showing your work in math class. Besides, it's usually at the behest of so-called good advice, and really, when is that last time following advice had a lasting effect?
No, what we need is a shift in consciousness--a simple stilling of the noise of the inner waters and a fuzzing out of the gaze, letting what's out there rush in to fill that raw, churning, gnawed-on space.
Filling an empty glass is as easy as dropping it into the stream, and as much as we think we're filled to the top with our worries/fears/obsessions/possessions/problems/workload, we're not.
Thinking we're full is the first sign we're dangerously close to running on empty.
I love puzzles and mysteries, myths and history, religions and ritual. I don't mind not knowing the answers intellectually, rationally, but I do mind not knowing them bodily, intuitively. In fact, I'd argue the latter is far more important, far more accurate, and carries far more information.
But when I can't get a read on something, whether external (person, phenomena, action) or internal (self--health, emotions, physical pain), it's profoundly unsettling. When the radar stops working, even briefly, it's like what tethered us to earth has been ruthlessly slashed, and here we are, floating up, with nothing to grab onto and no way to reinstate gravity.
And some of us (ahem) are afraid of heights.
I don't have an answer, but I once read that our intuitive selves are located along our spines, broadcasting out from nape to sacrum, which makes sense--this is the intersection of every nerve in the back body. They called it a radar dish.
I like to think of it as where we house our wings.