Today I participated in a chat about meditation. Someone brought up the subject of negative feelings and I got all excited sitting at my table. Hell, negative feelings? Now that’s my topic! I don’t mean to be flippant, but one of the reasons I find it difficult to hang with the ooga-booga crowd is all the emphasis on positive feelings. Sorry, but my last few years fucking sucked. Don’t tell me about the fucking Law of Attraction. Don’t talk to me about embracing positivity and letting go of negativity. Just. Don’t. Don’t talk to me about God never giving me more than I can handle. Don’t talk to me about support systems and people being there. Just. Don’t.
What all that really says to me is: “You, your feelings and your experiences don’t have a place in my world, I don’t understand anything about you at all, you kind of scare me and I want you to go away and stop talking.”
Which, you know, is perfectly ok for all those people who said stuff like that to me. Except it didn’t do me a whole fuck of a lot of good. What did and does continue to help me is remembering this: It’s ok to feel like shit when things are going shitty. Even superheros need a nap. It’s ok to cry. Eventually I’m going to stop. Everything changes even if just a little bit. Yeah, they can get worse. I’m not an idiot. But they can get better, too. And since I can do things to make a difference in both directions, what am I going to choose?
Even when the only thing I could change was my outlook, I had to ask myself: what am I going to choose to think? That I can control. That’s in my power. What am I going to do?
But what about what I’m thinking right at this moment? All that talk I heard about embracing the moment, living in the now. My now sucked sweaty monkey mooseballs. What was I supposed to do about that? I didn’t and don’t hear a whole lot from the positivity “love your now” crowd about that other than “Let it go.”
“Let it go.” What the fuck does that even mean? Who was the privileged asshole who even came up with that? I mean, my standard was pretty low. I envied everybody. Let’s cut to the chase. Got legs? Able to make no less get your own food? How about hitting the toilie without being afraid you’ll crash down the steps with a 50 lbs of scary metal crashing on top of your head? That was fun. Taken a bath or shower recently? Seen a human face somewhere other than a screen? Sometimes the platitudes of the ooga-booga crowd seemed laughably precious and out of touch.
Finally, unable to ignore the realities of my every day experience, I simply and terrifyingly, gave in. Yes. Everything sucked. Yes, it was unfair. Yes, I hurt everywhere and in every way. And it was ok for me to feel that way. And so I cried. A lot. Then I cried some more. And when I thought I couldn’t cry any more sometimes I cried again. No one heard me. No one knew. I went through a lot of rolls of toilet paper that I really needed to save because there was no one to go buy me more tp for what it’s supposed to be used for, y’know?
And each time? I stopped. I dried my eyes. I wiped my face. And strangely every, time though I didn’t realize it until later, I would within an hour go on to do something small that moved me forward or that made me feel better or that I thought I could not do. I found the energy or discovered the pathway. New agey jargon aside, I created room for me to breathe and a sense no matter how small that I was not completely as helpless as I had thought or felt. Even though my material circumstances had not changed, by embracing and acknowledging how I felt about them I was able to release myself from the stranglehold they had over my heart and mind. Bad things may have taken over my circumstances, but that didn’t mean they got to own my heart and mind, too. And that meant – I won. Not them.
That little tiny victory just in my own heart, that no one knew about, that I didn’t want to talk about, that didn’t mean anything to anyone except for me, meant everything in the world to me and still does. Sure, my life is so much better than it was. I got my legs back. (Some of the people I met back then never will. Talk about perspective and privilege, huh?) But it has not been so long ago and many of the challenges or their fallout still surround me. So, I fight this battle every single fucking day. Some days I do well, some days… not so much.
The metaphor of the superhero is my joke with myself. If I have to go through all this shit I might as well make it meaningful in some positive fucking way that *I* define, and no one else. No one gets to determine my story. The cool things about the subjects I’m learning and teaching now: yoga, meditation, martial arts, adventure sports, primitive skills, and diy science are all about taking ownership of your own life, becoming at home in your environment, and taking responsibility for your corner of the planet. There’s an old saying, “Saving one life is like saving the whole world.” Ok, so one person may not literally be able to save the whole world, but you can start with yourself. If enough people start saving themselves, maybe we can all come together save each other and we really will save the whole world. It’s gotta start somewhere, and I think it’s only going to start by recognizing the way things are right here right now even and especially if they suck.