Okay. This week? We're going on a diet. All of us. But this is a diet of a different kind. We're going to regulate the habit of unhappiness. We will make the conscious decision to make the most of what we have and pine for nothing. No undefinable need or vague despair. Enough!!! If you don't like it, FIX IT. If you can't fix it, PLAN B it. If you like it and want more, RESPECT IT. Clean straight lines of living.
- The Mayer, via Twitter
I have been unhappy a lot lately. No matter how many blessings I have tried to consciously celebrate over the past six months or so, I just couldn't shake the doom and gloom that has hung over my head since my grandmother passed away in December. I couldn't ever seem to catch my breath and find the calm, still center of myself, the part that is solid as bedrock regardless of the shaking of the world around me. I'm not used to that happening very often...I tend to - even when I'm standing in the midst of a shitstorm - be able to handle it from that place of groundedness, so that even if life is crap, I still feel okay, like it will pass, like I can handle it and things will eventually get better. I got very scared this time around that I'd lost that light at the end of the tunnel, that tiny glimmer of optimism that somehow manages to survive in the cynicism and sarcasm that is my standard operating procedure even in the best of times. I worried that I was losing hope.
That's only happened to me once before, and it was a warning sign that I needed a huge shift in my life, that something essential was missing, that the core of my life wasn't right. That was the day I dropped out of college, jettisoned my plans to become an engineer, and embarked on the journey to become the weirdo pagan hippie freako musician I am these days. It scared me a lot to think that maybe I was standing on the cusp of another horribly painful transition like that. I like change, but ripping apart my expectations of myself, not to mention my concept of who I am and how I define my own self-worth? Yeah, I could do without something quite that big just now.
(Sometimes, when I type something like this up, I feel incredibly dark and twisty and obnoxious. I recognize how melodramatic and over-the-top it sounds, even while also feeling it's honesty and truth. Can I simultaneously take myself really seriously *and* laugh at my own pomposity?)
Anyway. Last weekend was the Summer Solstice (here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and through a series of unexpected events, I wound up at loose ends. Two days of unplanned, empty, sprawling free time with nobody around (roomie was gone the whole weekend). Just me and myself and 48 hours of sunshine and blue sky. The longest day of the year, and incidentally one of those big ol' holidays us crazy pagans go nuts over.
I won't bore you with the gory details of what all I did with my free time (suffice to say it was awesome and I enjoyed the hell out of it), but during the whole time, there was an undercurrent of reflection and rumination about what exactly was making me unhappy. Some of it, I found, was shit I can't change or control; all I can do there is try to bear with it and breathe deeply and endure. Some of it was shit I choose not to change or control; dealing with this was a matter of examining my choices and deciding to change them, or to make peace with them. Some of it was shit that is absolutely within my ability to shift, but that I haven't...and here's where the work was for me. Why have I been pouting about this stuff, when all along I had the power to embrace it or reshape it or drop it like a fucking hot potato?
Well, you know, I'm human. Sometimes it all gets to be too much, and the system breaks down. While my life experience has taught me that I am lucky enough to live a life where there's nothing that I can't endure, overcome, or walk away from...some of that is easier said than done. Sometimes I don't handle it well, and I lose my center, and I flounder around like a fish out of water. Or a human being out of her depth and at her wit's end. And, sometimes, I have avoided looking at things I'm afraid of, and hampered my own forward progress.
This morning, I read The Mayer's tweets above, and nodded so emphatically I knocked an earbud right out of my ear. Yes! This is where I am. It took the longest, sunshiniest, most gorgeous day, plus hours of connecting with my gawky teenage nasturtiums and my tiny baby basils and my toddling thyme sproutlings and all the other beautiful greenbloods I've invited to live with me....to remind me of how happy I can be. I doubt I'm done with the darkness, but I have had a break, and something has changed. If only a little....still a little.