It’s 10:25 on Sunday evening. For the first time in years, I’m not watching the clock. There is nowhere I need to be in the morning. I have clean clothes, and my shoes are near the door where I always keep them. My keys are hooked onto my purse, but I will not need them as the sun is rising on the beginning of the week.
I had a panic attack today just before dinner. My stomach clenched in on itself like a knot, my hands began to shake, and I could feel my pulse begin to race. I was in free fall.
The story I’ve told myself for the majority of my adult life is that I’m not good at structure. I need outside structure in order to keep me productive. I need a time clock to punch, a schedule to be adhered to, an agenda to follow, or I will be useless. I need someone outside myself to tell me who I am, where I should be, what I want. I need someone to tell me how to feel and how to live.
My “job” for the next several weeks, outside of packing up and moving, is to clear my head. I need to get myself clear of this Stockholm syndrome that has taken over my life. I know this to be true, and yet for all the learning and growing I’ve done over the past few decades, I am at a loss at where to start.
I have been given an amazing gift, a gift so many people would kill for. I have time.
I have stolen silence from my life for so many years, edging peaceful moments in the nooks and crannies of my crazy world. And now, I’ve hit the jackpot, time-wise.
And I’m scared to death. That free time seems to spread before me endlessly, and yet at the same time I’m afraid I’ll blink and miss it. I’m afraid of wasting the gift, so I’m tempted to cram it full of tasks and activities and goals and lessons. Anything to avoid the aching, empty silence where my authentic voice can find me.
“Listen to that inner voice,” people always say. “Listen to your higher self.”
I’ve heard from my Inner Wise Self (IWS) before. But I don’t think this is the voice I’m looking for. I think this is a much deeper, more primal voice, one that has been stuffed so deeply inside of me I’d forgotten she ever existed. And she’s got a lot to say.
The conversation, I fear, will go something like this. “Who are you?” she will ask. “When did you become this person? When did you digest all this BS about who you are and who you should be? When did the act of making money become your sole criterion of self-worth? And what the hell are you going to do about it?”
I’d like to think that my authentic voice will be kind and patient with me as I go through the process of deprogramming my psyche. But I’m afraid she will not I’m afraid of her anger, and the anger that I’ve been swallowing for so many years. I’m afraid she’ll realize that it’s not society or religion that’s silenced her, but my own fear.
What havoc will she wreak when she finally lets loose? And will I be strong enough to weather the storm?
I’m in free fall right now. I don’t know where I’ll land or who I’ll be when the dust settles. But it’s okay. This is a gift. My authentic self is still where she has always been–waiting, more or less patiently, for me to shut up and listen for a change.
So I don’t have to worry about going to sleep tonight. The alarm is not set. I can wake when I choose and, aside from a list of moving-related tasks to accomplish, I have nothing at all I need to do. Nothing at all.
Wish me luck,
Background Music: Adiemus by Karl Jenkins
Hello, my lovelies.
Here we are at the close of another day. What wonders did you experience? What joy did you share? It occurs to me that you have been waiting all your life for this day. All things, beautiful and dreadful, encapsulated in a single spin on the axis.
Did you dream boldly? Did you dare without reservation? Did you love with all of your heart, heedless of fear or care? When opportunity presented itself to you, did you take a running leap to the edge, knowing the sheer force of your passion would carry you through the air like an eagle?
Every day, every single day, is an opportunity for you to soar. Today was no different. But if today was not 100% up to your expectations, I leave you with the gift of hope and the immortal words of Mrs. Katie Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler (but never Wilkes):
“Tomorrow is another day!”
Peace and love to you all, my dear readers. And if you feel the urge, you know where the Share button is located.
Deb’s Inner Wise Self
It’s been a long day. The planet has turned another pirouette on its axis, and sleep is our reward for another day of life. I hope you’ve had a wonderful day, filled with joy and challenge and those amazing moments where everything just fits perfectly together.
However, if you’re at the end of your day and feeling a little less-than-stellar, perhaps I can help you find a little perspective.
In the course of this one day, you probably have:
- Taken approximately 20,000 breaths of pure, nourishing air.
- Daydreamed almost half the day (hope your daydreams were awesome!).
- Made at least one person smile or laugh.
- Completed at least one difficult task.
- Done something kind for another human being.
- Done something to make yourself feel proud.
These are no small tasks. These are things that, on their own, may seem insignificant, but strung together create a life of meaning.
And if that’s not enough for you, ponder this. At this very moment, somewhere in the world:
- A newborn is taking his or her first breath.
- Someone is falling happily into their bed after a long, exhausting drive.
- A parent is greeting their child after a long separation.
- A designated driver is bringing his or her friends safely home after a night of fun.
- The cast is coming off at last!
- Someone is driving down the road, head-banging to this song.
- The driver next to them has turned off their own radio, rolled down the windows, and is singing along.
So as you’re heading off to bed, I just want to give you a friendly reminder. You are beautiful. You are worthy. Your life has meaning. Sleep well, and sweet dreams, my dear.
Deb’s Inner Wise Self
P.S. If you enjoyed this post and want to pass on the lurve, wander on over to the sidebar on the right and click the Share button.
By Deborah Baudoin
Warning: This is a very long post. If you wish, feel free to use Instapaper to save this to your Kindle or other device for offline reading.
A Blog In Search of Itself
Yesterday I posted that I was planning on making some changes on this blog. I’ll be honest–in the years since starting Ten Thousand Soapboxes, I’ve struggled with the nature of this blog. It began as a platform for me to discuss current issues, particularly those of a political or activist nature. And during the High Holy Election Season, I tend to do this a lot.
But drogging through U.S. and world politics, while invigorating, is problematic. For one thing, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of great blogs that offer better insight into the complexity and challenges of human governance (I would strongly suggest the great Bill Moyers‘ site or Robert Reich, if you’re in the market for intelligent discussion). My political views, while valid and strong, are hardly adding to the conversation in a meaningful way.
Another problem of focusing specifically on political issues is the wear and tear it places on my psyche. There is no way to look at today’s society without acknowledging the mistakes, abuses, and general dysfunction of it all. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to avoid adding my voice to the growing negativity that is shadowing our world.
So I decided to lay off the politics, and let wiser voices take the lead.
Which left the problem of an empty blog to fill. I tried posting about my writing, my life, my Day Job™, etc. This led to a horrible realization – I’m fairly boring. My life is fairly boring. Why on Earth would anybody want to read about the tedium of my days?
Fast forward a year or so, and you have the current status of Ten Thousand Soapboxes.
Collapsing Into Meaning
Do you want to know how to drive a person crazy? Stop up their creative flow. Whether they are an artist, a musician, a builder, a cook, no matter. We humans are a creative lot, and we do not fare well as mere consumers of life. (Which would account for a lot of the problems Western society is having, but that’s a blog topic for another day…)
How does a writer act when they cannot write? What fills their free time when nothing fills the page? Well, in this writer’s case, not a whole lot besides depression and junk food. I’ve spent much of the last year completely down on myself–my latest novel is dead in the water, every attempt at a short story dies in vitro, and even my blogging-for-hire ideas have dried up.
My life, outside of the Day Job™, has been watching documentaries, crashing on the couch, and cruising Facebook for adorable cat videos.
At least, that’s how I tell it in my darkest moments. In truth, I made my first professional sale this year, an article for Sage Woman Magazine. I surpassed a milestone of 125 posted blog sales with Blogmutt. I started publishing very short fiction at Medium. And with my partner Fey, I started a small tarot reading business called Two Ladies Tarot.
Not exactly a dead tuna, but my inability to get traction with my writing made it feel that way.
The Voice of Reason
About a week ago, Fortune placed a phone number in my hand. It was, in fact, the number for a free conference call with acclaimed artist/author Sark, whose work I have admired for years. The name of the conference call was “The Power of Creating and Collapsing with SARK.” I figured, the call was free and nothing else was working with the writing.
On the day of the call, though, I found myself on the couch, not wanting to participate. My depression was pretty high, and my energy was low. Somehow, though, I dragged myself to the call and dialed the number.
I got a lot from the 90 minute call I won’t go into here – tools for writers, ideas for dealing with disheartening emotions, etc. But the one thing that helped the most was the idea of the “I See You” letter, written through you from your Inner Wise Self. The free-writing technique simply gets you out of the way for your Higher Self to talk to you, through you. My first attempt at this was good, and I even got to read it for the group.
Then the call ended and i went back to my old bad habits…until yesterday.
Yesterday was a bad day. Yesterday was a black day, full of self-hate and recriminations and all those horrible things writers do to beat up on themselves when they’re not writing.
Then I remembered the “I See You” letter and decided, “what the hell?”
So I got out of my way and started writing.
Hello. I see you. You remember I’m here, from time to time. It doesn’t matter what you call me. It doesn’t matter how you see me. I’m here. Every single moment of every single day. I’m here. There’s nothing to fear.
So you’ve been lifting weights again? Picking up burdens, flexing your muscles, proving how self-sufficient you can be. Are you exhausted yet, carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? I’m tired just watching you. But it’s your choice. You can do it the hard way…you often do.
And writing some more.
So. Here we are-where we always are-faced with a choice. To choose suffering or to choose joy. Both have contstructive and destructive aspects. Ah, heavens! Construction! Destruction! One the good, one the bad!
Stop assigning value, Sweetie Face! Or don’t stop. It’s all good (and bad).
And it occurred to me–my Inner Wise Self was a much better writer than I am.
The Crux of the Problem
Finally, in the course of writing this meandering journal entry, it came to me. The source of all the problem. The source of all my struggles with this blog.
So back to the Big Question – to suffer or not to suffer? Big Picture – Peace, Joy and Healthy Snacks. Little Picture – Crazy Making.
How can I stay with the Big Picture, you ask, when I am So Small™?
Are you small? What is small? Where does big end and small begin? Where does any anything end and something else begin?
Big. Small. Good. Bad. Joy. Suffering. None of these words have meaning to me, not on this level.
The world is such a huge place. The cosmos, huger still. We are such tiny, tiny things in the face of this reality. What possible impact could a single voice have on the world?
And then it hit me.
Something. I can’t do much, but I can do something. I can send a bit of that Inner Wise Self (IWS, for short) out in to the cosmos, hoping against hope it might collide with another human consciousness and give it a little nudge. And maybe that nudge might start a chain reaction.
We are inundated with negativity. We are pounded by it, every waking hour.
My voice, in any way possible, needs to act as a counter agent.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
So here’s what I’d like to ask of you, my readers. Look to your right. There’s a “Share” button. It’s small, but you really can’t miss it if you try. If you like what I write on this blog, click that button and share it on your favorite social media site. Email it to your friends. Not to make me some Big Famous Writer™, but to be a part of a wave standing up to the hatred and negativity.
If you’re of the writerly bent, create your own “I See You” letter. Check in with your own Inner Wise Self and see what they have to tell you. Post anything you want to share in the comments. Start your own Inner Wise Blog. Send me the link, and I will follow you.
I challenge you, as I am challenging myself, not to stand helpless, depressed, and powerless in the face of today’s world. Wake up, speak up, and make a difference (even if it’s a small one).
We are all tiny parts of a huge, ginormous whole. We have power. We can choose what we are, what we do, and how we influence the world.
Will you join me?
Blessings to you all–Deborah