When you're feeling restless, don't forget to...
Essential activities for the heart and soul during times of stress, illness, and uncertainty
Sometimes it feels like a wonderland, my home. A warm and irresistibly capable space that welcomes - almost begs - for creative exploration. The small velvet couch to lay and dream on, the wide white rug to sprawl books and pages across, the tiny patio to sit and watch the wonders of this little enclave of existence from; palms swaying, a neighbor cat minxing, the endless fortress of open windows next door with their drapes dancing about. Sometimes - I might even say confidently most of the time - my home is a place that my imagination is free to roam and play as it should.
But in the moments when the time is not such ‘some’, my home is a fortress. An isolated island of thought that I cannot escape. There are days I wake up to the sunshine peeking through the window and have the audacity to ask it: “why are you here? What do you want from me? Don’t you see I have nothing more to give?”.
I have lived in isolation before, during chemo. I have had the experience of not being able to leave the house for fear of infection, for the low white blood cell count my body endured in order to survive. I remember well the tendency of both energy and intellectual enthusiasm to wax and wane as the days drag on. Some days are inspired; others are seemingly void, suffocatingly slow. Days when I don’t have the motivation to write, create, or express, nor do I have the willingness to completely relax and think/feel/do nothing. I can’t escape the self imposed pressure to be productive in some intellectual manner. Not cleaning, not managing the home; but the unceasing feeling that I should be somehow bettering myself, even if it is in a state of relaxation. What no one has yet to warn us is that self care can be burdened by all the same pressures to be beneficial (as opposed to simple nothingness; not good, not bad, not productive, just existent) as any other endeavor.
So when these moods hit; when the light hits the window in a way I don’t understand or the room is drenched in such watery misperception of worthiness or righteousness (IE: “Am I doing this right?”) that I must swim through the living room to even reach the patio for a brief moment of reflection, I find the pent-up energy must be moved somehow. And thankfully, there are activities of nothingness, of simple joys, that do the trick. Namely, because they take me back to a time before illness, before isolation, when naive, unbridled joy was a simpler equation who’s math was always perfect.
When you are scared, when you are stuck,
when you are frustrated in isolation, may you never forget to:
So you don’t forget the sound of your own voice, or how to use it. So you don’t forget the way that sounds lend themselves to emotions. So you don’t forget your power to use language and melody to label, express, and relate to the thousands of years of heartbreak the muses have inspired. It is our pain that draws us together; it is the beauty in that pain that exalts us.
So you don’t forget how to let go, be loose, be moved, be spontaneous, or how to move through this life with abandon. So that you remember that every single part of your body, the tiniest of toes and the longest of limbs, has the power to feel. So that your muscles can release. So that you can recall and call upon the joie de vivre of movement for celebration’s sake.
Yourself, your body, your belongings. Take baths so you don’t forget how to surrender; you must relax in order to float back up to the top. Wrap yourself in whatever womb will make you feel surrounded in warmth and your own love; blankets, sheets, or for me: dresses. All the pretty dresses. Adorn yourself with fancy, so you don’t forget the whimsical sensation of being treasured.
So you don’t hold anything in. So the salt of your tears can baptize your cheeks. So you allow that child within you to process, and let go of what she is secretly, sacredly holding onto for you: fear, pain, confusion, worry.
So you remember you are never alone.
So you are rested when it’s time to go out in faith.
So you don’t lose sight of what it is your eyes cannot see.
Through yells and screams, through quiet nights alone, through pages of books and diaries, so you allow the transformation of emotion and experiences to be reincarnated. Even feelings live the cycle of birth and death.
In the discomfort. Make space for every thought, feeling, and sensation so you learn to be still under their flow, like a rock at the bottom of a stream, as they pass over and through you.
Questions, question reality, make real the things you’ve always wanted to know. Ask yourself, your higher power, life itself so you don’t forget how to be a student of life.
To life as you knew it before. To the innocence and self obsession that kept you from thinking this could ever come about. To the blindness that kept you from feeling all you are going through now, in the privacy of your own home. Say goodbye to the priorities you had, and upon that blank slate of responsibility, with diligence take this opportunity to methodically place some new way of thinking.
It is all with a heavy heart, I offer this. It is not out of prophecy, it is not out of self assuredness. It is out of a very conscious desire to make something beautiful - if heartbreaking - out of the mess in which we find ourselves. It is out of a desire to release from within myself the pain, the anguish, the tension this time has brought about in my own life. It is not because I know, prescriptively, this will help. But it is born out of a desire to help, and as is my life’s purpose; to reveal the beauty inherent in this hardship.
And it is because today….today…because today is today. Because today I didn’t understand the way the light fell through my window. Because the sea was too thick to swim from living room to patio. Because I am just as confused and frustrated as you. It is simply because, with unadulterated love, I wanted us both to know, we’re not alone in this.
What mode of expression can I use to release my pent up energy?
What emotions are causing this restlessness, and what are they calling for to be soothed?
How can I learn to calm my productive tendencies in a playful, child-like way?