Balance has been my watchword for a couple of years now, and it's been one of the major lessons of the last year & a half. How to Balance my sense of self, instead of putting my entire identity & all my self-worth-eggs in one basket. How to Balance discipline with gentleness in navigating non-linear health.
I’ve by no means mastered these skills, but I’m relieved and grateful to say that as I’ve gotten better at Balancing (because I’ve gotten better at it??) the loop the loops seem to have re-centered on a healthier, safer, more graceful baseline. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been ethereal, internal self-work, and it certainly hasn’t all been pretty. I have also banged my head against myriad walls pursuing care, seeking treatment, and tweaking regimens.
I have had some truly ugly, hopeless days. And it’s no good-vibes-only zone for me — I believe sometimes we really have to dig deep, and show up, and make space for those days, and those parts of ourselves. For so long, a good day, or a win, brought anxiety more than relief, like the other shoe was always about to drop. I had to qualify every small improvement, hedge every accomplishment, or I'd be tempting fate somehow.
But, like I said, I keep coming back to Balance, on all fronts. So I’ve decided, instead of being scared to acknowledge an improvement or a win, instead of always waiting for that second shoe, I’m going to try to Balance out the bad days by celebrating, and accentuating, and embodying the good days, and to Balance out my fear -- not just with faith that what comes next will be good, but with a sturdy, steady willingness to meet what comes next with my whole self even if tomorrow doesn’t turn out to be one of the good days
It would happen when the wrong words were ringing in my ears. Those ones meant to subdue; spoken so pin-pointedly that they still leave me feeling cold all over. So I tempered my instinct. I warmed to melting. I questioned my gut-reaction to a situation, or a person, or a “compliment.” And, invariably, I overruled it. I apologized for it with a sheepish smile and a gaze that approached eye contact, but always fell short.
I spent countless hours rationalizing. For neighbors, and strangers, and classmates, and co-workers, and keepers of my misplaced trust.
No. Not spent. Wasted.
I have wasted countless hours of my life trying to convince myself that I'm overreacting, talking myself out of reality and ignoring my gut. My gut was right. Our guts usually are.
It happened when I found the right words. When I read her words, before I heard them. And their power only grew from one medium to the next. She was me. She was all of us. And suddenly, she was everywhere. Not the first, by long shot, but the latest in a long, long line. Igniting us; raising the bar, anew, too high for most of us to reach but damn it we will try. And keep trying. And keep speaking. And keep marching. And keep moving. And keep sharing. And keep shining. And keep rising.
I woke up this morning in a vastly different world from the one I thought I woke up in yesterday. And it feels like what I thought was faith was, in fact, just naivete. It has been a long, long day.
I've tried so hard to keep from being reactionary or inflammatory, from dismissing out of hand the opposing stance. I've spent the last year learning about vulnerability, and chasing earnestness. And I want so badly to be that person -- to keep an open mind, and listen, and try to understand, and strive to build some good from this aching chasm that separates us.
And I can't help but wonder, does it "feel different this time," each time?? Because this time it feels different. Last night I was stunned. Bewildered. And heartbroken. I've heard the words shock and grief a lot in the last 24 hours, and they don't feel hyperbolic. Is this it?? The beginning of something bigger than we can even see right now?? Will there come a point of no return -- of no departure?? It sounds extreme and insane, but it's there, on the minds and hearts of so many of my friends.
Today I have felt utterly lost and truly scared. But I've also felt motivated, empowered (strange as it seems), and inspired. To do good. To be better. To love harder, and hold closer, and dream bigger. This is not the end, but a new beginning. Now is the time to work more diligently than ever for the things we believe in.
I believe in kindness. I believe in standing with the underdog, standing for what's right. I believe in community, and a place at the table for each of us.
More than anything, more than ever, I believe in love.
To shake myself out of some recent doldrums and stagnation, I decided to try a mental exercise: removing obstacles using visual imagery. It was a little disorienting, to start, as I closed my eyes, and found myself in a desert landscape -- not sandy, but craggy, of hard, red stone. Foreign – almost Martian.
I walked through a narrow canyon, and there they were, in front of me. Amorphous. Ruddy brown. Like a cross between moving boxes and boulders. And as I continued, approaching them, unsure how to get them out of my way, somehow, suddenly, they’d moved. To my right. And they’d become transparent, nearly invisible, but I knew they were still there. I could feel them. I strained my eyes trying to see them, see how to destroy them. How do you fight an opponent you can’t see?? But that was the whole point of the exercise, right -- to exorcise them??
I think there may actually have appeared a light bulb over my head.
I’d been so intent on getting fully rid of the obstacles, I hadn't noticed they were no longer in my way. I’d missed the point completely.
Maybe I can’t level every stumbling block on my path, but that doesn’t mean I have to stumble. I can acknowledge my fears and my failings without being ruled by them. Once I finally understood, it seemed so simple. I was a little embarrassed I hadn’t seen it before. Of course, I had seen it before, sort of. We all know this stuff in the fronts of our brains, but learning it in the sub-conscious, seems to be another thing entirely, and it can take some doing. It was a small moment to experience, the whole episode was probably not longer than 10 seconds, actually; but it drastically shifted my perspective. And for now, at least, I’m feeling super empowered by it. Here’s hoping it sticks.
It's been a week since I found out a tree-I-didn't-know-I-loved had been chopped down.
The strength of my reaction to this news has been surprising. I'd never given it much thought when it had been there, it had just always been there. But now, the giant stump and clumsy, deferential curve in the sidewalk give a little twinge every time I pass by, the latest in a string of ties to my childhood that have come unbound, recently -- which is super melodramatic, but also kind of true, and pretty aptly representative of my state of mind as I attended the first of my close friends' baby showers.
Don't get too excited, this is not the story of how I had an existential melt-down and ruined my friend's party. This is the story of how just when I was spiraling over the fleetingness of everything, I found myself surrounded by some of my all-time favorite women, on a really happy occasion. How, just by their presence, they made me feel as safe, and loved, and silly, and grounded, and uncomplicated as I did when we were kids together. How even though the world moves so fast and the rules change every day, the important things, the true things, remain. Constant. And just because a knot comes untied, doesn't mean the lace will unravel.
And I'm a big believer in magical timing. So what better day to launch a new venture than February 29??
It's tempting to use an inaugural post as a mission statement, laying out what you can expect to find here, moving forward; but, quite frankly, I still don't really know what that looks like. I've stressed over what to write about, and what to call it, and a hundred other things; and I've felt paralyzed in fear-of-getting-it-wrong. Getting started seems impossible sometimes because -- how do you define a thing that doesn't exist yet??
Hint: you can't.
Or, anyway, I can't. I'm no Euclid.
But I'm learning (finally, painfully, slowly) that what we make doesn't have to be perfect, that there is power in vulnerability, and that living in fear-of-getting-it-wrong is a fool's errand. It's going to happen, and happen, and happen, again. And it's a good thing, too, because, almost always, taking a step is better than standing still; and once in a while, a wrong step leads you right where you're meant to be. So here it goes: I'm creating a thing!! And I'm looking forward to finding out what it is.