Have you ever looked at your To Do list and not wanted to do? At all? Those who know me well recognize this as pretty weird and completely atypical. I’ve been blessed/cursed with an energy surplus my whole life. In moments like this, I feel myself yearning for this curse. Instead I am experiencing this pervasive flat-line feeling. An eerie quietness of being sprinkled with moments of resistance. Resistance to what? Sinking into judgment that this quietness is just a cover for lazy, uninspired, bored. Pablo Neruda is way more eloquent than I:
What I want should not be confused with total inactivity.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness….
I can only imagine what clinical depression is like, a free fall below this neutral line. It must be devastating. And depression is not my experience. When I stay with the flatness however, breathe in and out, allow myself to go inside this indifference, it is quite clearly a muted grey holding zone, a place to hang outside the swirl of difficult emotions none of us care to feel. For me, there are a myriad of challenging emotions stemming from the state of our world—from the reality of climate change to the pathos of immigration; from the blight of national leadership to the in-your-face plight of the homeless—when I let any of that actually touch me, which I am doing right now as I write, I feel the ever present well of alarm that lingers in my gut.
Many of you tell me you have divorced yourself from the news. I am unable to not witness. When I keep my attention on this gut fear, it rises a few inches, blisters into a rage that threatens to stain everything I cherish. And when I stay with that (and I so don’t want to stay with that) my heart cramps with the conviction that my children and grandchildren are living into a future that I cannot even imagine. Breathing. A bunch.
Sorry to drag you along with me. But that is the reality of this flat line paralysis and I sense that I am not alone here. In the face of all this, none of what I am doing makes any sense. After a few breaths, I realize that everything I am doing makes total sense. I just keep doing my best to hold space for myself and for you so THAT we can feel. In the coolness of this morning, after I sit to meditate, I make myself take a long walk and I lean up against an old redwood tree. And then I come home and trim all the flowering thyme in my garden. I cut a bouquet of echinacea and arrange it in a bright blue vase. I look at my To Do list and sit down to write this newsletter.
Go outside, find beauty in its infinite form and drink it in, move the body, surrender to practice. These are the antidotes. More often than not they help move me from flat-line into feeling. And I draw so much comfort from this writing and from reading poetry. These lines from Rilke are a salve:
Let everything happen to you: beauty
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
These are the dog days of summer. Practice in community is one of my strongest antidotes. There are four more opportunities to do just that before the August break: two more Sunday Sweat Your Prayers, two more Tuesdays for Time to Move. May the balance of your summer allow everything to happen to you and may we all take solace in the truth that no feeling is final.