This is going to sound a bit wacky but I wanted to say it.
A few months ago, I started getting some bad feelings, Paulo Coelho Alchemist-style, that the universe was somehow telling me I was on the wrong path. Or rather, that I was ignoring the signs to the right path. I think I wrote about it at the time but maybe didn’t publish it. No matter. I tried to start paying attention and I guess I changed some things. Not major, earthshattering changes but those small incremental shifts that happen almost subconsciously and kind of simultaneously. The changes where it almost feels as though, by the time you’ve formed the thought, the deed is done, things have been set in motion…
I did the poetry month, which was pretty major for me. I made some decisions about work and life that have led to me feeling a little less restless than usual. Maybe I even grew up a smidge.
I sort of hate when people talk about this stuff in a self-helpish way because they never give you any REAL information, or practical steps to follow. Listen to yourself, pay attention to the signs, it’s all so ephemeral. I’m sorry because I don’t think I can offer practical advice either, beyond a cod-version of my patented “hands-off parenting” advice (maybe it’s my general life advice) which is: You do know what’s right. And even if you don’t think you know, you do. Trust yourself. Then go on and do it and meanwhile, butt out of bossing other people! (Unless they ask for your advice, I love giving sought-advice IRL). So why am I even saying this here? Sigh… I don’t know. I’m not trying to help anyone else out particularly, just understand myself a bit better.
I’ve been trying to allow myself some time to think as well. I find it almost impossible to sit around and contemplate stuff though. I am a do-er, but that’s OK – with doing comes thought. I can think while I do. That said, one of the few ways I can give myself a break from “doing” is by reading. I read novels. A lot. I’ve recently finished the Earthsea quartet by Ursula K. LeGuin and some of the words really struck a chord… surely a level up from Coelho at least 😉 Anyway, one of the ideas I always come back to when I consider my life here in Switzerland is that it is a unique time. A time-inbetween-times where I am almost inexplicably free of the burdens of what I’d call “normal life”.
“each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are.’” (from “The Farthest Shore: The Third Book of Earthsea (The Earthsea Quartet 3)” by Ursula K. LeGuin)
I’ve also been allowing myself to feel my emotions more and maybe that’s helped? I find it hard to value emotion over rational thought and planning. Considered along with the gender bias stuff I inexpertly wrote about recently, I guess this can be directly correlated to a lot of what’s seen as important, valuable and success-making in our society – traditionally “male” traits of rationality, consistency or unwavering-ness, disregarding emotion. (I say “male” in inverted commas because I don’t think men and women are really that different, but we’re conditioned in so many ways to believe we are.) And I wonder if, in this world gone mad with all the focus on negativity, where commercial enterprise wins out almost every damn time against caring for the natural world or human decency; where we’d rather catch a longhaul flight to holiday in another country than let a starving refugee take up residence in our own, if this denying of emotion, of love, of trying to push away fear with hatred and never allowing ourselves to feel compassion because we’re so afraid that it will in some way diminish us, open a door through which all that we value can be taken away from us; where appearing strong, virile, invulnerable and unbending is paramount, while showing you care, or admitting you don’t understand, or are afraid, saying you’ve changed your mind and you feel different now, even saying sorry, let alone that you made a mistake, is seen as weak and therefore bad… I wonder if that’s actually a big part of what’s wrong with the world right now.
Anyway, while I still shy away from too much touchy-feely stuff, allowing my emotions to be felt more often is probably a good thing. They say only the truly strong can show their vulnerability, or something. And, like anything, the more you practice, the less out of control you feel with it all. Emotions are not just the light, frippery, insubstantial butterfly girl-things we should ignore because they’re so silly (although why you’d want to disregard something so delicate and beautiful I don’t know). They’re also the deep, dark, bloody and important things that make us human, that touch our roots, our history, our compassion, our tenacity and our integrity. I’m not free of my demons by any stretch, but maybe I’m starting to balance the burden towards freedom a little better. I hope.
“She did feel it. A dark hand had let go its lifelong hold upon her heart. But she did not feel joy, as she had in the mountains. She put her head down in her arms and cried, and her cheeks were salt and wet. She cried for the waste of her years in bondage to a useless evil. She wept in pain, because she was free. What she had begun to learn was the weight of liberty. Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveller may never reach the end of it.” (from “The Tombs of Atuan: The Second Book of Earthsea (The Earthsea Quartet 2)” by Ursula K. LeGuin)