A Natural State, Being At Ease
The dark time of night breeds quiet and an invitation to restore. When this natural stillness is perturbed, the fear committee rouses, its presence weighs heavy, as a stone.
During my adolescence, phone calls punctuate the hours. No good news phone calls come in the middle of the night. When I answer, an official sounding man says, “three minutes.” Then I hear him, my brother, asking for mom.
Another drunk driving arrest in the family. Four brothers, four DUIs and counting. I quickly pass the phone from my hand to my mom’s but the burden of the news doesn’t leave me; a sense of heaviness remains.
In their heaviness, stones stay put unless an external force moves them; stones have a natural and definite steadfast sense of leave me alone. Fear gets wedged in my body like a stone; stubborn, stuck and seemingly solid.
It contracts me from a natural state of being at ease to a tight place of pinch.
Back then, as an innocent child, I didn’t know how to move the fear, to shake the pinch, so it piled up and connected to all the other fears, some inherited; alcoholism included, the stones gathering, forming a mountain of malaise.
Today, unlike my childhood, I choose not to have a bedside phone that can ring in the middle of the night, instead I unplug. Yet even without the phone disruptions, self-generated negativity thunders loudest in the wee hours and this storm waters the fallow fields of fear.
Fear Gives Birth to Doubt
Doubt then invades my internal landscape as an invasive vine, crawling and tightening around the lung trees, constricting my safely nestled heart a little too tightly, quickening my breath, and disrupting my rest and digest slumber.
I feel loved, safe, grateful, and happiest when I am outside; this is the saving grace I learned as a child. Appreciating stones, marveling at tree roots, skipping down the beach, my senses gobbling up all the natural beauty that they could.
Indoors, my senses quickly cramp and I become irritable. I notice when someone has been home; a pair of glasses moved, a dirty glass of milk forgotten, my favorite cookies eaten. Minor irritants eating away at the foundation of peace, I feel existential anxiety so I clean to titrate it. The warm sudsy water wiping away the residue of neglect, temporarily. After a very short while, I get cabin fevered, no amount of cleaning is enough.
A state of loneliness creeps into my heart, naturally.
Return to Ease
Then, just as a breath of fresh air works wonders for my psyche, I open the door, step outside and life begins anew again. Beyond the bars of my mental imprisonment of fears and anxieties, I am free to explore the natural state of great beauty around me. It penetrates me. Skin and sun mingling. Warmth within. Return to ease.
Communing with the water element enlivens me. I frolic on the beach, the act of jumping foamy waves curling to the shore fills me with delight. This is the place where consciousness, symbolized by the land, and unconsciousness, the sea, mingle.
It is one of my favorite places on the planet. Paddling on the rivers, the lessons of going with the flow and contemplating the journey come easier here. I also notice the muck and the mire that gets caught in the eddies. Swimming in the lakes, the eyes of the world, and allows my perspective to shift as the lens widens.
I live close to the bone. I sense the energies of the world around me. These wake up calls to beauty save me from myself.
Me, a psychic sponge of sorts, readily saturated with grace and beauty or conversely, with fear and doubt, I must be willing and able to squeeze out the toxins which flood the space between my thoughts. If I donʻt release the pinch, fear and doubt fester into a soup of shame, and that shame clogs my nervous system to the point of overwhelm.
Everything changes. I used to wear all black as a teenager. Now I adore wearing all white. I even tolerate grey, in my wardrobe, in my hair, in my chain of thought. Adopting a fresh perspective free from polarities allows me a better chance of hanging out in the sweet spot of life.
My troubles, then, are not so different from the present, it is just in the subtleties, the gradations of the experiences. Today, the rage is not so ragy. The disagreements are not so disagreeable. The dread is not so dreadful. I know how to move the fear.
Everything swirling and changing around me, the one thing throughout my life that is constant is the sunrise. It rises, every single day of my life. Not once in awhile or when it was summer, but every day. The sun comes up behind a veil of clouds or as a glowing orange orb on the clear cut of the horizon, shimmering off the ocean’s waves.
Wherever I am, it rises. The sun continues to rise, no matter what. It is not up to me whether this happens or not, which is a huge relief. I can rely on it. Sunrise is trustworthy and I surrender to this.
I wake early, earlier than usual, 4 a.m. Instead of wrestling with my worries, did I get enough sleep, how will I pay the bills, is my mother okay, will my son be alcoholic, why politics and environmental degradation polarize us, I go out to my lanai for prayer and yoga and look up to the sky.
Nature is a Salve
Stars pierce the darkness, some swimming in a milky way, the big dipper pouring in the east. I am putting my mental energies to a different task, learning to tell time based on the seasons and the constellations. Nature is a salve for my soul, I feel its restorative power immediately.
I am living a continual leap of faith and I jumped so high, it really is just one long free fall.
I have moments of feeling grounded but perhaps I am merely resting on a cloud, temporarily. The weather shifts, the clouds dissipate, there is no such thing as solid ground. Feeling the ground under my feet somehow reminds me of groundlessness. The sun kiss my skin reminds me of boundlessness. Pulling me this way and that, the winds of this passing moment remind me of impermanence.
My life begins when I leave my house and allow my senses to play.
My favorite game is what is the most glorious thing I see in this moment, now? The new shoots on the fern? The turkey turd from the neighboring wild turkey we call Tina though I think she is a Tom? The lei of clouds ringing Mauna Kea?
Healing the Planet
I will remain active in the pursuit of my purpose, to heal the planet one relationship at a time. I am humbled to know there are some relationships I cannot heal, even within my own home, my own family. Now one brother is sober, one is drunk and has no license due to multiple DUIs, yet he tells me he doesn’t drive because his truck is broken down, the two other brothers are still figuring it out, and it is not up to me.
The one relationship I can and do heal is the relationship with myself, dismounting the mountain of malaise.
From there, all things are possible.
Tonight, I will put my head to my pillow in gratitude: that this being here is enough.
I am in a natural state of calm abiding when I can unlock the pinch. Letting go of fear, doubt and shame are essential to living in a place of relaxed pulsation, breathing with the wind, giving my exhale to the trees, receiving nourishment from the ʻaina, and surrendering to the flow of ʻwai. Puʻu wai, the hill of water, my heart center, hums in the heartbeat of space.
I am restored as the dark night breeds quiet. Tomorrow, I will rise again, like the sunrise, and do what must be done.