Remember this song?
You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith, or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene
I’m no real fan of the lyrics; I think if your pointed mission is to focus only on one part of life and ignore the other, insisting on walking only on the sunny side as I heard someone say, you’re not really living your life — but maybe that’s just me. The lyric came to my mind this morning because I was thinking about how very bad I am at living in the In-Between.
Finally, thank heavens, hallelujah, oh praise be, I am not living in between. I’m not in between two places, as I have been for 4.5 years, and as I have intensely been since we decided to buy this house. I’m not in between the leaving and arriving. I’m good at tolerating that experience, I’m just not good at taking care of myself in the midst of it. I kind of psychologically pant, like women in transition (ha, that’s kind of interesting), and just try to let it all be all around me without pushing it all to finish. So I’m very good that way, but I do it at the expense of really living, somehow. I float along on hold and don’t really put my feet down on the ground — I guess because I feel like the ground is shifting.
Huh. How clear it is now that I’m writing about it.
In the most practical way, what this means relates to self-care in all its manifestations. I don’t tend to my appearance in any way at all. I don’t even try to eat well. I don’t do the things that nourish me, in any way at all. If I take in something that sustains me, like poetry and art and movement, it’s almost accidental. It has to happen into my path on its own and I just kind of sniff and keep going.
And then there’s the devastation wrought by the election, and the nuclear impact that has had on my psyche. I’ve put on thirty pounds since the election. Thirty. I haven’t done yoga since before we went to Indonesia. I’ve walked, but not in an engaged way. I just drove 1,933 miles, only a handful of weeks after driving more than 2,000, and you don’t eat salads and drink spring water when you’re doing that. My body is rebelling, and some of it is temporary, like the way my hips and knee joints are kind of frozen from the long drive. But my hair is lifeless and hard looking. My skin is dull. My posture — never my best attribute — is somehow even worse. My mind is a mess, thoughts frizzled, peace and stillness nowhere to be found, clear thoughts unavailable. I feel the panting of my psyche.
But now I’m here, at Heaventree, and I just get to be here. I return from transition to living, with my feet on the ground. Ever since the election, I’ve tried to return to my best way of being, but always by trying to reincorporate something lost, like a decision to do yoga at least X days/week. I think now I’m going to return most pointedly to where I started a few summers ago, with mindfulness. I’m going to simply try to be present, and do just one thing at a time. No demands on myself beyond that, though my goal also is to focus on food again, my morning green smoothie slowly absorbed. Grains and vegetables and fruit, again. And I’ll hold the possibility again of yoga and meditation, maybe starting with some peace-instilling yin classes just to allow me to reconnect to my body in a way that feels so good.
And so I sit here in my still unsettled house, nothing on the walls because we’re going to paint, no living space set up because we’re still without a couch, but I am here among the trees. I allow the frazzle to settle, the water to clear. What do I hear? Birds, in stereo, and at all distances around me. The rushing water of the larger creek down below, moving quickly again because of all the rain we got yesterday. I feel my heart pounding because I drank a lot of coffee this morning, the pleasures of returning to my own coffee routine, enjoyed out on the deck and surrounded by peace.
I feel so deeply this poem, this morning. You can listen to him read it here.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Thank you for that, Mr. Berry. It’s always what I need. Mindfulness Project Day 1.