Monday, August 26, 2013

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I realized I have been a ghost in my own life for a couple years. Looking at that reality is incredibly challenging, and a bit horrifying, even as I've had time to reflect and examine myself. I feel as if I spent day after day looking into a hazy mirror thinking the mirror itself was foggy, only to finally realize that I was the transparent one.

Have you looked back on moments or situations (or years) and realized you weren't THERE? Physically, maybe even mentally and emotionally, you might have existed. But your whole essence wasn't fully present. A part of you didn't feel, didn't engage. I expect anyone who has gone through periods of depression understands what I mean. We seem to function alright in the midst of that hazy state. We might get things done. We have conversations, we experience emotions. But we're shells amidst many of our hours and minutes spent.

That's what I mean. I was a shell. I felt excitement, I felt anxiety, I smiled and laughed with people, I wrote and taught and sang, but I felt so exhausted and empty that many of my actions echoed in a cavern. I've heard some people describe the soul “leaving” the body when it no longer feels safe, but I'm not certain I engage that belief (despite all my talk of empty shells). Rather, I forget how to communicate and be present to my soul. Like any intimate relationship, I suppose. We can live in the same house with someone and yet never engage. Inhabit the same space but never connect. Our internal space is no different. The shell isn't necessary empty, but the internal is ignored as my attention flits outside my skin. A soul sister of mine summed it up beautifully: "I'm learning how to be alone."

The "aloneness" is not necessarily a lonely home.

My parents used to talk about cherishing relationships as “tending to each other's gardens.” In very real ways how we tend to ourselves can change how tangible we are. Self-care, sure. But in order to tend anything, to care for anything, I need to BE in that space. Be aware of it, be a conscious participant. If my attention is scattered and I have no energy left to be with people I love, to do the things that matter to me, what am I?

A shell.

I feel alive after just a few days. Last Monday a friend asked me what I planned to do on my break; how was I playing and enjoying myself? I sat for a moment, processing my to-do lists, my tightening schedule filled with teas, lunches, and “hangouts” with various friends. I thought of the road trip formulating in my mind (represented by squiggly lines on a mental map), of the drawings and paintings I wanted to start.

I plan to feel, to experience fully, to enjoy the people I want to enjoy and explore a world I really exist in. If I touch the window of this coffee shop, I'll feel the cool surface, hard and perfectly smooth. I'll look into a lover's eyes and see a moment shared and secret while the air hangs thick between our bodies like a heavy mist pushed by our breath. I'll drive along the wriggling coastal line of California and notice when the edge of the world catches my gaze, begging me to stop and draw its effortless (and effort-full) form.

Fresh starts are opportunities to exist in the world that begs for our attention. Mountains become important because they're mountains. Social justice calls for action because we're human beings, too. A kiss goodbye in the early glimpses of morning is a strong voice declaring love in silent seconds.

Even gardens can grow in absence; inevitably they will become much wilder in that time, waiting for someone to push away the dead twigs and leaves to find the forgotten bulbs below the ground.

1 comment:

  1. Seriously, woman! The grace and the power and the gift of your words resound so very deeply.

    Merci, Bebe