Being Still. What a concept (this is a continuation of my last Musings post – sorry, guess I’m still in that zone)
Everyone’s (rightly) been talking/writing about what a shittastic year it was and while mine was no exception, there was also a… stillness that wasn’t any sort of ‘tastic. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until the snow and ice retreated and I went into the garden.
Most of you know that I spent last Autumn curating the space, with an eye to evaluating it this Spring and Summer. I thought that was going to be a very difficult thing; I’ve spent a decade using the garden to fill the hole in my soul, jamming more and more plants in there, as if it would settle me down… except it did the persack opposite, with all the plants jostling and competing as a mirror to my own inner turmoil. Last year, just quietly, carefully moving, editing… what an unusual approach for me. This year is even more unusual – I’ve yet to open a single catalogue! Other than the veg and decorative containers I always plant I’m going to spend this season just… being. Being still. Letting the garden tell me what it needs. Letting me tell myself what I need, both within the garden and without.
This is a ..disorienting.. way for me to be. For most of my (rather privileged) life I have been in constant motion, trying to outmaneuver Floyd knows what. The last 10 years of abject weirdness meant I couldn’t stop at all, lest I actually confront the trainwreck of my personal and deeply inner life… it took this year working with a young vet with PTSD to realize that I, too, was suffering from a form of PTSD, and had been for a very long time. We’ve been exploring Warriors at Ease, a yoga/meditation program designed for veterans and others trying to manage the challenges of PTSD and other stressors. Though it’s designed for returning combat vets, all the poses, meditations work for anyone wading through the myriad emotions connected with stress. Interestingly, one of the gifts I’ve been given, exploring the program, is the beginnings of the ability to just. be. still. I don’t have to go to Defcon 2 and fix everything right away – sometimes it’s okay to just.. be still. Be present. Listen. Be. It’s a discipline, like any other, but deeply rewarding. My young friend is struggling with a bizarre guilt – he enlisted, so feels he has no right to have PTSD, as if there’s some value judgement attached to having enlisted. My first urge was to leap in and fix it for him (and punch the throat of anyone who would suggest that to him)… then I realized.. he just needed me to be still… and hear him. That was the gift I gave him, to hear him. Only then did I realize that I, too, attach value judgements to the strangest emotional things: you can’t feel sad or lost if you’re fed and warm. Or if you have money. You can’t feel this, you can’t feel that. You can’t, you can’t.
All these value judgements, setting false parameters. What a shocking waste.
This year and the work I’m doing is allowing me to take these notions apart. It’s not as easy as I am making it sound.. ..but neither is it that difficult, I’m surprised to find. I had to laugh – I’ve deliberately scaled back my financial burden, living in this ridiculous little house in this absurd little town so that I could give myself time to breathe – and for most of the past year I forgot to breathe! Walking through the garden this am I realized that for the first time ever (EVAH!) I was content to just look. Maybe breathe a little. Just be still. It was a very odd feeling. Other than picking up Winter’s detritus I have little to do this Spring, except watch stuff come up. I thought I would feel anxious about it but it’s .. it’s okay. How odd.
A good friend says about me ‘you’re one of the kindest people I know. But your outside is covered in knives’. And I wonder if that will ever go away. Probably not (re the knives part – I’m hoping to always keep the kindness). I’m not ‘nice’. I’m rigidly formal and controlled, obviously, since SWAT isn’t at my door, but I can be a bit scary and very uncomfortable relying on the kindness of anybody, which is one helluva Life Lesson, ongoing, because I wouldn’t be here if not for the kindnesses of a lot of Anybodys, most of whom are a lot less scary than I am. But they are there for me, in incredibly strong ways – stronger, even, than I am. I do accept it and appreciate it beyond measure – but being comfortable with it is a whole ‘nother banana. However, I no longer feel the need to cover every inch of me in knives. In fact, it seems the tougher I get, both physically and mentally, the softer I am allowing myself to become, deep inside.
Okay. Maybe not that soft. I’m still a pretty rigid presence and I’m still ogling the living daylights out of a Benelli M4 ( I’m not a firearms nut – but just LOOK at it! and omg. how it feels in my arm!!!). And a lot of the skills I like to develop are unnerving to the general public. But at least now I can look at people, take a minute to Be Still – and, mostly, see their humanity.
It’s a start.
But I’m still getting the M4.
what about you guys? was this a reflective year or were you just trying to keep SWAT from breaking down the door? Do you love shotguns as much as I do? Okay, that’s a trick question. NOBODY loves shotguns as much as I do (and I don’t like guns all that much, in general). If you do, SANG it! Right here.
oooh! and I’ll bet you thought I forgot about the Musings draw. I did not.
Janet in California
gmail your evilauntieanita with your details. I’ll get some goodies out to you!