“…please, ask yourself whether these large sadnesses haven’t rather gone right through you. Perhaps many things inside you have been transformed; perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad. So you mustn’t be frightened if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Yup. It’s official. I have the blues. And as much as I like blue, I do not like feeling it. Sometimes, it is okay (read: Rilke’s lines to a young poet). To ride the sadness and embrace the empty – it can be fodder for our art, teachers of empathy, allow us to honor what makes us vulnerable and lonely – but misery is also overrated and once the spiraling begins, what started as a shallow hole you can easily step out of, can deepen into a dark, abandoned well with stagnant water and fetid aromas. Sitting there awhile allows you to remember never wanting to end up there unnecessarily again and after wondering how you got there in the first place, the clamor to get out claws at your soul. How did I get here? Well, I’ve been thinking too deeply. Feeling too much. Overanalyzing to a degree that no longer feels healthy to me. Taking myself, my thoughts, my emotions way too seriously. Focusing too much on what is making me unhappy rather than gazing at what makes my life grand. Because it is a grand life. I seem to have lost my bearings about this and want my compass back. So yeah. I need to get out of here. And quick. Because I don’t want to get used to feeling wet, cold and in the dark any longer. I don’t want to get comfortable in this despair. I don’t want it to define me. I want to stop asking why? for now and just emerge from this familiar sorrow and back into the light. I have to pull myself out of this weird funk. I’ve done it before. I can do it again. Today. I’m feeling a little better already.
What usually works for someone like me is to write and pray. I don’t really see the two as separate anymore. Most of the time, when I am writing and pouring my heart out, I am also reaching out to G. Surrendering what is inside me and asking for some assistance. There’s the difference between scratching the walls until my nails bleed climbing and eventually crawling out of the well, to asking for and receiving help with the pulley. The former relying on my own feeble strength; the latter, a ticket to a less painful, more graceful exit. On my own, I reach the light wet, angry and exhausted. With G, I emerge with more peace, less struggle and a fluffy towel waiting for me.
So yes, today, I write and pray with my heart on my sleeve. I don’t want to feel sad anymore. I don’t want to feel bad anymore. I don’t want to be in the well any longer. I want to bask in the light that sits on my skin, warm and life giving. To do that, I refuse to focus on what’s making my heart ill. Instead, I want to remember and lean on what makes it full. So here goes…12 things I am extremely grateful for today, in no particular order.
1. God who is faithful, unchanging and a fulfiller of promises.
2. I am alive and healthy and have the ability to show love, choose my own perspectives, share ideas and live with freedom.
3. My family is safe, intact, happy and complete.
4. I have a dream job that I worked hard for and deserve. I collaborate with inspired, interesting, intense, hard working people who believe in me and who teach me something everyday. I am surrounded by kids who push me to teach, learn, do and be better. I earn enough to be able to save, travel, enjoy life’s little pleasures without worrying about it too much. I am financially independent, living on my own and fully capable of making a home that’s lovely to retreat to everyday.
5. I am surrounded by amazing people who offer consistent love and support. Friends who accept me and who allow me to show love back. Friends who tell the truth, who will defend, who will protect and share what makes them happy and what makes them scared. Friends who listen, who will sit me when I am sad but also not enable destructive behavior. Friends who show up. Friends who I can count on and who I trust can count on me too.
6. I have a fundamental trust in the world, people, the future and God. I know things happen for a reason and that eventually, everything works out for the best.
7. Even if it feels elusive right now, I know I have had joy in huge doses, in inexplicable levels and will have it again. I am grateful today for knowing and being intimate with joy and it’s just a matter of time and perspective that we will be one again.
8. Words upon beautiful words stacked against each other to create and negotiate meaning, give comfort, keep us company, enlighten, humble and leave us thinking, longing, wanting more. I am grateful for books today.
9. Images that speak to me and allow me to share my worldview in a simple but powerful way. Photography always saves the day. Thank you, nikon, iPhone5, instagram and Flickr.
10. Even if it hurts sometimes, I am grateful for truth and honesty and facing everything that makes our world great and broken.
11. From art, to music, to nature, to material things that make us stop for a minute and appreciate details, design and composition, to the mundane and everyday, beauty is everywhere. I honor and celebrate it today.
12. Finally, I am grateful for love, the shark included. That it has found me. That I have found it. That I am learning. That it pushes me to want to be better. To always be the best version of myself.
I know this is just the beginning. That the funk I allowed to fester will take awhile to slink away , shrink and disappear but this is a good start. I want my heart of gratitude and love back. I miss it.
I miss me.
“Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
grateful slice: deciding to be happy