I realize it has been quite a long while since I last touched base with you. I have many excuses, of course, because excusing my own behaviour is one of my super powers. Let’s chalk it up to general malaise. Some grieving, some restlessness of spirit. I tend to turtle when I feel badly and then reach out once I feel a bit better. I truly admire those who can say, “Hey, everyone, I’m struggling.”
When I am in turtle mode, I am a bit of a navel-gazer. Our internal lives are endlessly fascinating and we all live them in our own unique way. I myself have to get that inner world outside of me where I can take a look at it. How do I know what I think until I hear what I say? This method is fraught with potential pitfalls. I actually don’t recommend it. I wish I could keep my thoughts to myself and think things through first. Not my strong suit. Never has been.
Don’t ask me how I’m doing if you’re in a hurry.
My close friends have come to accept the volatility of my emotional weather patterns. I’m great. I’m sad. I’m inspired. I’m defeated.
No fourteen-day forecasts – it’s by the hour for me. And recent events – around the world and in my own life – are creating a climate change landscape inside me. Unpredictable. Record highs. Record lows. Devastating storms.
This makes me wonder about the internal world of others. Does the store clerk fail to meet my eyes because of anxiety? Are they afraid to make contact lest their tenuous hold on their emotions comes apart? Are they detached because they are wrapped in pain?
We all carry so much that we don’t talk about. At least not easily. And when those emotions begin to surface, what do we do? Shove them back down and distract ourselves? Or do we let them come?
Last night at dinner, a friend shared the statistic that in the world of music, most people choose sad songs over happy ones – at a ratio of ten to one! He posed this question: Why do I tear up more easily to a sad song than to something sad in my real life?
He thinks it’s because music is therapy, and obviously, for him, it is.
In this moment, I am doing the other thing that I do when emotions rise to the surface: I am sitting on the deck in the sun, looking out over the lake and I am writing. (This is my less verbal way of processing my inner world.)
When I have used up all my words, I will walk down there, jump in the cool water and let it all wash away until I emerge refreshed in body, mind, and soul.
I wonder what everyone else does with their surfacing feelings? Jog, bike, swim? Read, write, paint? Sing, play guitar, draw? Listen to music? Read poetry? Go bowling? Walk the dog? Bake cookies? Lay in the hammock and let the feelings float past like clouds?
It is so hard for people to carve out time for themselves in this crazy world. If they manage it at all, it tends to be for the well-being of their physical self.
Learning how to care for myself was part of growing up. How to manage my world on a practical level, how to take care of my physical well-being, as well as learning the skills of maintaining a healthy emotional life. (See how I made that sound so easy?)
As I age, I’m finding that my body needs different things. More of some things, less of others. In the same way, my emotional needs change as I age. Which is to say, the process of understanding oneself is a life-long practice. Just when you think you’ve figured out what you need, you change. I’d like to tell you there is a finish line for self-awareness but I suspect if there is one, we cross it about one second before we take our last breath.
And so, in the interest of not being too wildly off-course in that final moment of life, I continue to do the work of exploring my inner world, accepting it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ll keep talking. And writing. And swimming.
Hopefully, when my moment comes and I can look from here to there with clarity for one perfect millisecond, I won’t be shouting, Holy moley! Did I ever get that wrong!
Hopefully, my soul will look across the divide and be able to say, Ah, yes. Now I get it. Well, I was close.
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