Thursday, August 21, 2014

I feel what I feel; I choose what I do

For me, it seems perfectly natural that my body sometimes responds to the billions of factors of life with emotional fear-based responses that feel like what gets diagnosed as anxiety and depression. Just like labour pains don't indicate something is wrong, but instead indicate that the body is working perfectly, so the darkness has its place in healthy emotional experience of life, when it can be kept in balance.

My body sometimes gives me pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, a sense of futility. Given the state of world peace and the hands in which power sits, that's not unreasonable. I may look around and see current circumstances in my life that I can blame, but my body would give me these feelings about whatever negative aspects existed for whatever circumstances I was in. That's how it works. Blaming the present masks the real, underlying system - which, remember, is behaving reasonably given the insanely dangerous proposition of being alive as a human on planet earth, alone in the Universe except for the crazy creatures around us.

The darkness can fuel my curiosity, my burning desire to understand how all this works and why it's allowed. It can force words out of me into this blog, alerting other people to ways of seeing the world's systems, ways that they wouldn't have time to develop themselves. It can force me to give my body time to hold itself and grieve its losses and traumas. It can give my meditation depth, letting me process out gunk that doesn't serve me. It can push me to stretch and pump my heart and lungs with movement, or it can drop me into rest so my organs can regenerate.

When the darkness descends, I call it by name. I remind myself that my brain is seeing just one lens, one way, and it's blocked out all the others. That doesn't mean they aren't there. The sky is clear behind those grey clouds between us and space. It's clear but all we see is the rolling grey; all we feel is the thunderstorm. And then it passes. The sky didn't really change, up there. My body's weather doesn't need to be fixed or overcome or even milked for understanding. It can simply be experienced, while I keep my eye on the things that matter most to me and take a step or two each day to serve those things, to the best of my ability.

When I know what matters to me, everything else is the experience of me living my life, serving those things. Minimizing what doesn't serve. Maximizing what does.

If my brain sees futility in my actions, if my brain predicts failure or humiliation, I may find I can't argue against those points, and get depressed. But that doesn't serve what matters to me. What I know in my mind doesn't always translate to emotion, but I can at least acknowledge that it's only one lens, that I have seen other lenses in the past.

I can decide that this lens in front of my eyes does not control my actions. Thoughts and feelings about futility require no action from me. They require inaction. I can sit with them, in inaction, and say, yeah, so? I can let myself feel them, slow myself down, ask what message they have for me. I can spill their story into language or cry their story with song. I can pet them or feed them. I can create works of art with their universal truths.

If I can make the time.

When I don't have time to process, those feelings can feel like an intruder, an unwanted guest demanding and destroying. I can't always give way to the energy. When the kids need me, when a client needs me, when I am committed to an outcome by a certain time. For those times, I rely on my commitments to myself.

It takes practice to find the personal strength, resilience, stick-to-it-iveness to do something even when it feels too hard and totally futile, too small to matter and not good enough. It takes practice to recognize the difference between giving myself care and caretaking myself as a diversion from hard work. It takes discipline to slow my pace so that I can maintain balance and be effective. It takes honesty and vulnerability to set only expectations that I can meet when the world wants to rush and roll. It takes determination to keep my commitments to the critical when the whole world is calling or nothing is calling at all. It takes humility and pride to hand off commitments I just can't make, and even more to hand off the commitments I made and can't keep. So I commit to myself that I will practice these elements of character and live as though they matter, regardless of whether anything matters at all.

I feel what I feel, and I choose what I do.


So what if there's never time? If I'm always committed and I run out of all the stores I'm building of strength of character? What if my character muscles start to give under the strain?

If that happens, my darling me, it's once again time for something to change.