It is icky outside.
Glen Ellyn sat on the cusp of the end of a blizzard and the start of a winter storm last Sunday. It’s been gray and rainy and icky for the last couple days.
The winter storm began Sunday with rain eventually shifting to snow, which was bough breaking heavy. Gray skies were constant this week. They followed me on a trip to New York Wednesday. When the sun shone through the clouds in Manhatten on Thursday morning I consciously felt my attitude shift upward. My arrival in Chicago Thursday afternoon was met with sunshine shrouded by gray skies, which shifted it down and dour once again.
So heavy was the snow that it was not until this morning’s thaw did I realize that the one 30-foot limb from the neighbor’s silver Maple splayed out in the backyard was nothing of the sort. It was three large limbs that had fallen and together under the mounds of snow appeared to be one.
The veracity of this late November snow and the weight of its snowfall hung heavy on me this week. Last night, I worked through this with at dinner with a friend. I told her of the thoughts and feelings that weighed on me. She reminded me to run the scenarios through my head, to keep on asking questions about why I feel the way I do and the clarity will come. She’s right that the clarity will come, but not by running things through my head. It comes through writing.
I thought a lot about her words this morning at yoga and later while walking the dogs. They plodded through the snowmelt, splashing through puddles, adjacent embankments packed with ice, leaves, dirt and all sort of crap that reminded of the cloudiness in my head. I was feeling like this last year when I committed to writing for 90 days. I recalled the pride I took in making a commitment. The joy I found in making good on that commitment. The clarity I sought about so many things. And the clarity I found on questions I had yet to ask. It was a powerful exercise through which weight was lifted, and woes released.
In the absence of regularly writing these last six months, I’ve increasingly found myself saying I need to do this or that, but not committing. And I think on this cloudy, wet, icky morning that I know why. Because I’ve been avoiding the answers. In early November, I was journaling in a notebook every morning, starting each entry with “you have to feel to heal”. That mantra is a purposeful reminder to me:
- to be forgiving and compassionate
- to accept that healing is a process
- to appreciate that grief is the counterpoint to joy
- and to accept and feel the physical pain associated with loss
Picking up that notebook so many days last month, I kept asking myself if I was ready to make a commitment to write again daily (to blog daily). And I realized this morning that it’s not the commitment to writing that I am afraid of, it’s the commitment of feeling and working through the pain to heal that scares me.
I spent the morning evaluating the last year, and all its hoorays and hiccups. From hernias to dog farts, to liminal space, to Improv, to sleepless nights, to crummy dates, to new jobs, to silence, to persistence, to honesty, and more, I experienced a lot. I shared a large portion until I stopped in large part because my words were muddled thoughts. I lacked clarity, evidenced by the 62 blog drafts that for an array of reasons will likely never be published. Those drafts included reflections, questions, feelings and answers I generally don’t want to deal with. Those muddled thoughts caught up with me, in the form of sleepless nights the past few weeks. Insomnia is where my anxiety manifests best. I’m most anxious when I’m busy burying, avoiding, and just existing.
If sleep requires clarity, then it reasons that I seek it. Last year, I committed to writing for 90 days, and today I’ll up my game by a month. I’ll be done by April 1, likely none the wiser. Prompts and poems may come about, but for the most part, I expect my thoughts to curse through my nerves, prompting my fingers to move across the keyboard until the words appear on the screen before me. All days and all blogs will not make sense, because that’s the reality. Life isn’t pretty all the time with contextual footnotes making each experiences’ meaning crystal clear. It’s an evolution of iterations that make us who we are, and it’s our choice to listen, learn, and love.
Phases of existence are best compared to me eating McDonald’s. I don’t love McDonald’s, nor do I completely disdain it. I eat it in hurried times when sustenance is needed. I don’t have to think about it. And that’s what existing is. We have a heart and lungs that fortunately function without our prompting. Life is pretty dull in this state. Moving beyond existence and sustenance to experiencing, learning and loving is where I find fulfillment, even when that joy comes after working through grief.
Clarity is meant to be found.