Last week was a full one. Full of news, both personal and international, and full of activity.
My friends in Paris are safe. That is some consolation, as the terrible stories emerge. But it does nothing for those who were killed or injured — and all of their loved ones who will forever be affected by that horrible series of events, last night.
And now the fever pitch of war cries picks up even more. When war doesn’t just happen everywhere else, and people start to notice how… horrible it is, there tends to be an outcry. Something must be done. Action must be taken. Things must change.
But then, after people have gotten used to it and made the experience part of their world view, the cries for action go away, and people go back to living their lives, grateful to be excited over things that don’t matter at all.
Of course, not everyone gets to leave the struggle behind. Some of us live with the struggle, day after day, and it never really goes away. People with chronic pain…. or neurological issues… or chronic degenerative conditions that will never, ever be cured, just get a little less painful, from day to day… or daily struggles with PTSD, mental illness, emotional trauma from things done to them, their family, or another loved-one.
Many of us carry these things around with us, day after day, sometimes coming to terms with the pain on a moment-by-moment basis.
Some days are better than others.
And today — for me — is a quiet day, which I hope will mean it’s a good day.
The attacks in Paris last night really set me off. I was up later than I usually am, but fortunately I was able to “sleep in” till after 7:20. So, all is not lost. And later today I plan to take a nap. Or two. It’s all about pacing myself… but also not letting myself get pulled down into the malaise that sometimes takes over me when I’m not active (“taking it easy”) on the weekends.
Sometimes, taking it easy is the last thing I need. It can be physically painful. A three hour nap can leave me feeling like I’ve been trampled by a herd of while boars. It also makes me feel dull and drugged. I may need the sleep, but it takes a toll. Yes, I want to rest my mind and body, and I need it. But the inactivity actually brings the pain.
So, while today will be a quiet day for me, it will also have its share of activity. Interspersed with naps, so I can get up and be active again. Short bursts of doing something, followed by a rest period.
I will also rest my mind. My head is swirling from the past week and the Paris attacks, and I need to get myself to what I’ve heard people call “desert mind” — where your mind is free and clear of clutter, and things are moving through as they will, without getting snagged on all kinds of things you make up. Or maybe that’s “zen mind”. Anyway, that’s where I want to be today. Flowing right along, playing my music, exercising a bit, driving around to run my errands, trying out some new music out of curiosity, taking care of odd things at home, and just following the day where it leads.
Sometimes, when I am trying to get to sleep, I imagine myself in a desert canyon, sitting in the shade of a rock face beside a flowing stream where wild animals come to drink. In my mind’s eye, I watch coyotes and mountain lions and rattlesnakes come to the water’s edge, while I observe in silence. They see me, but they know I mean them no harm, and they mean me no harm, either. I watch scorpions scuttle by, and I see vultures circling overhead. It’s not frightening. It’s relaxing for me — to be in the presence of creatures that many fear, and to not feel anything akin to fear — just letting them be there.
Just letting it all be. Letting it be quiet. Letting it be what it is. Seeing everything for the danger it can be, without reacting to it as danger.
That’s how I feel about the weekend ahead of me. Two days off my regular work, I have time to focus on the things that really speak to me in a way I want to be, mentally. I can create the state of mind I want to have, in the midst of it all, and that’s a mighty valuable skill. It comes in handy, in times like this.
I’ll also have time to revisit things I’ve left off over the work week, because I’ve been too busy/tired/overwhelmed to do them justice.
Things like my neuropsych retiring — and taking away the one opportunity I’ve had each week since 2009 to understand my life in a way that is useful to me, not just a blind repetition of others’ phantasmagorical imaginings. I’m starting to understand the true impact of this change. In a very real way, a part of me is going to die when they leave. I believe that our Selves are defined in large part by the circumstances we are in and the dynamics with the people we interact with. We are a certain way with people, and when those people depart from our lives, that way goes away. And it can never come back, because there will never be another person like them in our lives. Ever again.
So, it’s a death, of sorts, and our working relationship is essentially going into a sort of long-term care, and then hospice, as I say good-bye to that part of me that exists only within the confines of that office, once a week.
It’s time to dive a little deeper, now. It’s a little frightening, a little invigorating, a little freeing, because it’s finally happening. I had wondered about this for months, and now I know my hunch was right. That month they were away with their family, they were probably looking at condos, during much of their visit.
And it’s time to stop dwelling on the Paris attacks. It’s a horrible, horrible thing — and it’s not going away anytime soon. So, I can do myself a favor and step away from it to think about other things that build me up, rather than tear me down… and drain the energy I really need to just live my life.
It’s time for a walk in the woods.
Or maybe a nap…