The Empty Balloon

That’s what my cranium feels like today:  a balloon that went all over the room expelling air and then flopped down on the couch.

Partly it is sort of a new pattern here, of frantically working on a project and completing it (or whatever passes for completion in the moment) and then, THE VOID.  Perhaps it’s just shock.  I did my taxes and for the first time in…well, years, anyway, I’m getting refunds.  Which once again reminded me that the massive worry-thons that get launched around here are generally total wastes of time.

For some reason anxiety and depression and worry have been floating around in the the topic bowl.  It’s pretty clear that worry and fear become habits, not that they cannot be shifted but the responses become so “normal”  you don’t necessarily realize that you’re essentially “praying for what you don’t want” as I heard a musician say on the radio a few days ago.  William Styron’s DARKNESS VISIBLE addresses this as well.  His memoir of a descent into profound clinical depression, this book is quite riveting in its lucidity and in the accuracy of the descriptions of almost indescribable mental states, of the unbelievable pain people suffering from depression experience.

These difficult mental states, disorders, illnesses if you will, what are they?  We are learning more and more about the chemistry involved in them, how life experiences affect that chemistry and our behavior.  There are many options now for dealing with such a state of things, and one thing they all take is time.  And attention, of course.  But we can shift our behaviors by paying attention to them and not continuing in the ones that don’t serve us.  This behavior change can restructure neural pathways, and ultimately old pains may, and do, recede into the background and are no longer in the driver’s seat.  Sometimes it takes more assertive intervention, of course, and sometimes even Western Medicine, that thing we love to hate, can be helpful in balancing brain chemistry- as long as it is done consciously, and not with the intent to mask symptoms and continue on in the same old ways.

In essence, and as usual, we have to want to let go of this constellation of feelings and thoughts, as we have to want to let go of anything we wish to change.  So often it seems that people want to stay the same but be more comfortable there.   Our socialization leads us to view life as a continuing dance of pairs of opposites.  The duality doesn’t leave much room, and it is easy to feel stuck in such a paradigm, swinging between poles of artificial distinctions that don’t ring deeply true.  So, liberation, which is ultimately the goal in every endeavor I think, is a movement toward unity; toward a consciousness of expanded awareness.  When we stay stuck in the pairs of opposites, it can be overwhelming.  Those poles loom large and absolute, and this can make us think that we can never “get better”/”recover”/move on/whatever it may be.  It seems easier to stay as we are, perhaps.  To my mind, liberation is a process of education.  This education leads us to see much larger horizons than those simply of our pairs of opposites.  These larger horizons contain all sorts of questions that lead to answers, and those answers can really help us be happy where we are, which is the essential first step.  Letting go of the perceived loss and pain we can see where we are.  Then we can begin again, and begin to truly live our lives.

There are all sorts of things that happen in life, catastrophic and terrible things, happy things, innumerable and perhaps unnameable things.  Perhaps part of really being alive is finally being able to step past all the “things” that have “happened”, without judgement but with acceptance and honesty.  Then we step into World, and it’s quite a different experience.  It isn’t necessarily easier, there’s still pain and joy, but there is a majesty and light to it that seem to help with the basic guidance.  So there’s less crashing into unseen mountains, less fearing them.   In short, it does get better.  But I think you have to be willing to put everything down before you can pick it up properly and go on again, into your life.

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