so I’m finally writing again! great! wonderful! I’m doing it! it’s a thrill, really, and I’m excited about it, and it feels right!!! I’m showing up, and I’m sitting down, and I’m… C R A S H I N G, into the wall, the wall of WHAT? what do I write about? and the panic that ensues from not immediately having the answer to a question. does anyone else have this problem? the feeling that you should know everything, at any given moment, and if you don’t, then clearly something is wrong with you. where did we get the idea that we were supposed to be everything, all the time? when did we lose touch with the knowledge that we are enough?
evolutionarily speaking, the drive towards “more” makes sense, it’s what keeps us in motion. it’s the vital element that makes movement and progress possible, and overall I think it’s a positive force in the world. but where the problems start to arise is when in the process of improving, we somehow abandon the self we are wanting to improve... ok, there is it! I’ve realized what I want to write about, and I got there, by writing.
self-abandonment in the face of self-improvement. how do we strike a balance? would I still want to learn and grow if I felt like who I was was already whole? I can’t answer that question, because I have been on a 35-year-long journey towards wholeness, and have not gotten there, yet. maybe it’s why the seemingly enlightened ones tend to be drawn to bad potato sack fashion and poor website design-- they no longer need to be anything other than what they already are, and the use of the papyrus font in purple makes sense once you are whole. perhaps. and perhaps it’s also ok, and even more importantly, possible, to always seek higher understanding of good graphic design while also feeling like who you are is groovy, and substantial, and enough. that you can be enough, and still want for more. it sounds nice, right? wanting to get $62 facial oil, not because your fucked up face is getting wrinkles, but because you really love your face and want to take good care of it as a way of saying "thank you for doing such a good job of being a face, face." what a concept! and certainly not one that is being pushed around us. the message being sent, and received so much of the time, is one of our overarching, overwhelming insufficiency. we are lame. we are dumb. we are too sharp or too round. we are too pale or too brown. but WE ARE SO MUCH MORE than what is being sold, and we are struggling to connect with that truth.
so then what? give up and give in? certainly an option I’ve spent a good chunk of time flirting with. it’s easy to buy into the idea that we are not enough, and could possibly make up for that by buying enough to neutralize our lack. but the problem with that plan has been the whole needing money to buy things conundrum. I’m not driven towards making money. don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have more money. I’d never turn down a no-strings-attached big fat stash of cash. but I have quit a great many jobs that I knew were sucking my soul dry. I have lived below the poverty line more years than I’ve lived above it, and I’m not saying that’s ideal, but I am saying that there are costs that come with making money, and I’m not willing to pay the price of hating my life just to make a living. so, I can’t buy my way out of feeling inadequate, no matter how much the television and the billboards and the magazines tell me otherwise.
ok, so can I sit on a mountain top and breath my way to peace? I mean, I could, though I do wonder who would feed me, and how good the cell reception would be up there, and whether or not I could get a decent cup of coffee somewhere close? the reality is that I am not on a mountaintop, I am smack dab in the middle of a metropolis and I want to be able to find peace wherever I may be, within me.
so what can I do, with what I have? that’s the question I ask of myself and of my life, a lot. and here, if you’re interested is a running list (that is always evolving) of some of the things I have found to be powerful tools in the process of seeking wholeness.
- read. books are awesome. I mean, some are less awesome, but the awesome ones, whoa. the ones you stay up late devouring because you are sure someone read your diary and then talked to the great almighty creator and got all the answers to all your burning questions. the ones that shift and shape you, never to be the same again. I’ve read many, and they really have helped me understand myself, and the world, and life, and love a little bit better with each page turned. though beware, when you finish the last chapter, and you close the book, you still don’t know everything, and don’t have all the answers. (AND THAT'S OK!)
- talk it out. if you can afford it, go to therapy. and if you can’t, try to find ways to have a support system, whether that’s an organized group, or a good friend that listens well (and whom you listen well to in return). we are all wounded, and we don’t have to heal alone. finding others to support us along the way is key to success. something I have to remind myself almost daily is that not only do I not have to go it alone, but that going it alone all the time only seems to lead to loneliness, and often depression, and maybe even a nice little splash of insanity. I would like to add that the “can I afford it?” question is rife with potential self-defeating tricks and lies your brain may be very good at telling you. I recently started seeing a naturopath that I “couldn’t afford” but decided to go see anyway, and she has been worth every penny, and the money spent on her, has been money saved on self-abusing practices, like excessive drinking, late night amazon ordering of things I don’t need, and various other doodads I spend my money on in the hopes of distracting myself from not being well.
- take a walk. moving meditation has been a big anchor for me, and quite possibly the singular thing that has kept me out of an institution at certain points in my life. if possible, walk in a place that’s surrounded by green, rather than concrete. try not listening to anything other than the sounds around you, and the sound your body makes in motion. look at the sky and marvel at how it stays up there. look at the ground and how it never fails to support you. if you see other humans along the way, give smiling a try. don’t be bummed if they don’t smile back, depending on where you live, a smile can take someone a while to process, and they may not register what is happening until you have passed. and they may just be having a bad day, or had too much botox around the mouth. whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. smiling is good for everyone, especially the one smiling :)
- be in nature. hug a tree. seriously. ask it questions, hear its answers in your heart. trees are great teachers. trees don’t stop reaching for more riches in the soil or stop growing towards the sunlight, and I bet they also don’t worry if their bark is too rough, or their branches too saggy. also make sure to roll around in the dirt, and then eat without washing your hands. this is a new one for me, and still freaks me out a bit, but I am washing my hands a lot less and I have not died yet. and if the research is correct, getting and staying dirty can work wonders for my physical and mental health.
- nourish yourself. eat beautiful and clean foods, grown by thoughtful people. cook for yourself, and the people you love. know what you are putting into your body. listen, I get it. I have resisted this one for a long time. I have treated the kitchen like a prison cell most of my life. my anger at the patriarchal system has made me hell-bent on never being good at cooking. but guess what, I’m not proving anything by not being able to prepare foods I want to eat. and the truth is, the experience of making something delicious and healthful is one of the more empowering experiences I’ve had as a grown ass woman. it is a tremendous act of love, for yourself and anyone lucky enough to receive that gift. my naturopath just told me she wants me to learn how to bake sourdough bread, so I just ordered a sourdough starter from some woman in missouri. chances are I will end up blogging about this adventure, so stay tuned for that exciting event (for reals excited, I haven’t eaten bread in over 3 months in the hopes of having happy guts, so the possibility of making bread that jives with my belly is cause for celebration!)
- write it down. it never fails to surprise me how much I actually do know, when I just sit down and write it all out. whether that’s journaling first thing in the morning as you try to remember your dreams, or writing that memoir you’ve been writing for years in your head. find some time to sit down, with paper and pen, or laptop, or crayon and wall, whatever, just write it out. the key is out, get it out, it’s not meant to stay locked in there, open the gates, find freedom.
ok, of course there are many more things that could go on that list, feel free to share anything you would add. but I’ll start here for now. you’ve gotta start somewhere. and wherever that may be, know you are enough, even as you try to be more.