By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what’s happening, we begin to access our inner strength. – Pema Chodron
Since the year turned, I have been unable to sit still, unable to concentrate, unable to be comfortable with the tumult of feelings and knowledge and thoughts racing around inside my being. My sleep, rarely good, has assumed a completely new quality of poor – it’s not that I don’t sleep, it’s as if I can’t.
This sensation seems only to have intensified as the days have passed. The air inside on this day was heavy, expectant, like the dense stillness before a storm. Little things have been slightly off; this afternoon, the hallway was so atypically quiet – with most everyone in the office present and accounted for – that a colleague stopped by to ask if I didn’t think the stillness was “eerie.” Indeed, I did. Slogging painfully through parts of a a 300+-page document in preparation for an upcoming meeting, I could feel rather than hear the rumbling in my core, as I wondered vaguely how bad the deluge will be and whether I am brave enough – and my instincts good enough – to make it through unscathed.
This morning, a different co-worker had drawn my attention to this link, from which the opening quote is drawn, about how we can learn to exist in acceptance in the place “in-between,” when we find ourselves unmoored, caught between solid bodies of land, not knowing. Chodron writes that “It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. … When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously.”
And so I tried, in between paragraphs, to accept my uneasiness, my not-knowing, and focus on my work. I was mostly unsuccessful. I will keep trying – tonight, tomorrow, the tomorrow after that – to remember to breathe deeply, to just be.
I am exhausted from fighting against the tide, swimming toward a distant and unseen shore. What would happen, I wonder, if I stopped struggling and just floated, embracing my dislocation, seeking not an anchor but a respite? As this thought moves through my brain I can feel the tension draining from my shoulders, my spine sinking back and downward, with relief.
So rest it is. And we’ll see what this tide brings tomorrow.