As I run my fingers over the tiny Danish Kroner in my pocket, I am reminded that the world is full of good people, who are full of love. We, forget this, I think, when we’re close to erratic behavior or seemingly hurtful actions we can’t understand. Every time I wear this swan-covered coat, I think of her; that wide smile, that exquisite Scandinavian jawline, and most of all, that warm heart beating steadily away beneath her sturdy bones. And I think of how generously she gave me this coat, how I clung to it for most of the flight home, remembering her, remembering all of them, and how lucky I was (am!) to know them.
Something I want to do, but am hesitant to resume, is write more candidly on this dear blog about things that interest me, or things I experience. I’m not sure who is out there, experiencing things that I am experiencing (most of all, repetitive worry, an impossibly inquisitive and wondering mind), but I do know that knowing your experience is shared is always helpful. Still, the other part of my mind feels a little self-centered, writing about my life as though I expect others to take interest in it. That being said, writing is also incredibly meditative for me, and I do a better job of it when I know there’s a chance that someone, even one person, might come across it.
So–let’s start here. Repetitive worry! There’s a lot of back story I hope to write into an actual story someday that I’m not sure needs to be divulged at this moment. All that needs to be said is that I worry waaayyy too much, and usually about totally delusional and highly dramatic things. Generally, my worries center around terminal illness, death, and loss, and are exacerbated by doctors visits (especially if precipitated by an bizarre or new symptom: an odd burning pain in my upper abdomen, oh my!!), air planes (this is new, since 2011, and a huge pain in my ass), and romantic relationships. I worry mostly about the people I love the most–family and friends–and myself. Sometimes, this incredible ability to worry is extended to total strangers, if the setting is right. I’ve cried over fathers in gas stations, small children at fairs, young mothers in toy stores. The list goes on. Yeehaw.
I’ll be totally candid: I’ve made immense progress over the past 3 years, especially the last 8 months, in understanding and managing my worried ways. But (there’s always a but!) some recent experiences revealed to me that I still have a tremendously long way to go. I bemoaned it for a while, but they had to be incredibly painful (experiences) in order to shed so much light on parts of my life that for a while have existed in darkness. They forced me to realize how cloaked in fear my existence has come to be. I didn’t see it because so much of who I am IS quite fearless, is wide awake and wholly alive–but the parts that are not are so deeply buried they’re hardly visible. An easy or hasty experience would not have directed my attention toward them. Realizing how much was still buried forced me (again, forced, yikes!) to acknowledge that I likely needed outside assistance in uncoverng and letting go of these age-old and unpleasant tendencies.
So, I sought professional help, and found myself seated before a delightful, bald old man who sat in a rocking chair at his desk and clumsily typed into some sort of miniature computer device as I spoke. He managed to understand my ways with incredible clarity and even created analogies to ascertain his level of understanding. “So,” he said, “the record player has already started screeching, and you go up and hold a megaphone next to it and expect it to sound better!?” Yes, sir, I do! Anyways, the pillar of his treatment program is mindfulness meditation. I had to laugh a how perfectly this aligns with my life at the moment–it coincides wonderfully with the end of my yoga teacher training program, and it disallows me from continuing to invent reasons not to meditate more. Now I HAVE to, every day, for at least forty minutes. It’s a lot. But, (but!!) I think it’s going to work, I think it’s already working. Even if I’ve not yet managed to quiet my mind (it’s only been three days, amigos mios), I’m already learning how to peel back the layers of worry that attempt to suffocate it.
For now I want to quickly touch on one thing I thought about today after day 3 (out of 56!) of the mindfulness meditation program. When I lay down to do the guided meditations (week 1 is a 40 minute body scan) I find that my mind is rarely pulled by the garbage and delusion (really, it is) that plagues me throughout the day. Even today when I had been worrying about *SOMEONE WHO SHALL REMAIN NAMELESS!* (wow that sounds so fucking ridiculous in writing) all day long, my mind only bounced toward this person once, and then quickly let it go, without much effort at all. When I lay down to meditate, I find myself pulled mostly toward forgotten to-do lists, car troubles, money troubles, forgetting things, not having enough time to get stuff done, etc. “Typical” stuff I rarely think of throughout my day. Where were my beloved delusions? Where!?
Not to worry, though; after getting up and packing my bag for yoga, I quickly found myself thinking about the same old shit again, and in a way that was incredibly painful, making me feel desperate and sad and hopelessly stuck. But when I was waiting in line at a cafe moments later, something occurred to me: I must have different layers of worry, and perhaps some layers are added by choice, and perhaps the tremendous pain that is caused when I am experiencing them is due to my awareness (however buried) that I am choosing to worry about it, to feel this way, when I don’t have to. It’s almost as if i enjoy, on some level, exposing myself to an endless line of terrifying questions. I think, (and I’m not sure I’ll ever know) that it has something to do with this: as long as I hold on to any worry, I’m excusing myself from having to accept my reality as it is. It’s a quiet way of fighting or resisting what I don’t like or what frightens me or what makes me uncomfortable. There is a certain amount of security in wearing all these layers around, and there’s habit in it, too: I’ve done this since I was eight years old, when I learned that anyone could die, at any time. I know, I know, what a perfect thing for an eight year old to ruminate upon! These tendencies (which often landed me in the nurse’s office for hours at a time, or on my teacher’s lap in tears) combined with the ultra-cool jumpers my mom sewed me with what I am certain was tapestry material, I feel pretty sure I can explain how I sky-rocketed my way to extreme popularity as a teenager. YES! Oh, and let’s not forget my keen ability to bitch-slap young men from the tender age of thirteen. I really had it all going on.
Anyway. Anyway. Enough about me. Enough complaining and moaning’ and groanin’. I want to touch on something else. For anyone in the Buffalo region, you’ve probably heard of or have been following Blue for Ben. If you’re not familiar, it’s a blog and and an online community of supporters for a young boy with terminal brain cancer. I learned today that he passed away last night. I am not a religious person, but I’ve held this boy in my thoughts for the past few days, after my mother told me he’d gotten worse, as I do believe it’s possible that energy can be transferred, exchanged, and transformed. He had five years on this beautiful planet. Five years. If you’re reading this, then you’e outlived him. If you’re reading this, then you get to experience the painful beauty that is adulthood and learning from ugly mistakes and miscalculations. You get to hate yourself and then learn, once again, how to accept yourself exactly as you are. You get to think and reflect, and hopefully grow and transform, and then experience joy and bliss and perhaps moments of no thought at all. Moments that are so beautiful that the mind is rendered powerless to make any sense of them. This is something that I know I need to be more mindful of, today and everyday. Growing, (and life in general) as painful as it can be a times, is never a burden. I am so lucky to be here. We all are. I know I’m guilty of forgetting this.
So, as I continue down this path towards a more mindful existence, I’ll keep this boy in my thoughts, and hope that his energy has found itself transformed into some sort of peace, somewhere. I’ll also keep his family in my thoughts; I cannot even begin to understand that kind of pain. I’ll also do my best to keep in mind how beautiful all of this is, every second of it, every dark corner, every painful crack, every wave of emotion, every up and every down. I am endlessly fortunate to be able to walk across the face of this planet and experience it all.
I’ll be back with periodic updates on my progress (and my regressions; you know it happens to all of us!) in letting go, at last, of repetitive and needlessly painful cycles of worry. I do have moments where I wish this letting-go could be easier for me, like it is for some people, but I am who I am, and who I am needs to work her ass of at this. Así es la vida 🙂