I am still discerning why it is I have not written on the Blog for a while. Having had a regular discipline of writing it just seemed that after a short family holiday in Ireland that I needed a pause in this pattern of creativity. I know of many people who like to post a lot of their life and daily events on Facebook or Instagram, and then for their various reasons announce that they have ‘had enough…’ and that they are ‘taking a break’ from Facebook. It seems that there is some kind of abuse, a rant, or perhaps an overwhelming negative presence that they pick-up on Facebook which they feel some distance is required. Many felt this way after Trump was elected in the USA and the online commentary seemed to become more and more vitriolic. I don’t think it is for this reason that I stopped writing. I was not flooded by ‘trolls’ or personally attacked. It felt more seasonal, like a field gone fallow.
There were a couple false starts, that to this day, still sit in the draft box of the blog which will likely never see the light of day. I went through a phase of feeling very guilty that I had not bashed out some writing. I’m still figuring that one out, as guilt is a very strange beast that I share with a great many people.
I suppose I feel that I am entering into a new phase: artists can have their ‘blue phase’, or an ‘expressionistic phase’. While I am not sure how to name the feeling, or the ‘phase’, it does feel significant. The things to which I strongly felt attached and committed have shifted. The closest I can think of for some similar experience is when I first became more attuned to my religious and spiritual life. In this reflective manner, I often feel that things are repeating themselves, but that I have a bit more distance between the ‘things’, be they emotions, or events. I have the sense that I have been here before, that it is a well worn path, but that I am a different person able to see the path as repetitive, but able to appreciate new things along it. Living in Germany I might make the comparison of having driven down the same road many times, but now, instead of zooming along at 200 km/hr the car has broken down and I am walking at a rate of about 5 km/hr. The route or path is familiar, now there is far more detail to be observed. In a sense I feel like I am letting go of things and appreciating the gifts that present themselves.
I’m sounding a bit philosophical I suppose.
There are many things on that Autobahn that I just don’t think I need to carry anymore. As the speeding and achieving give way to the slowing and appreciating the pause in writing and reflecting will likely take a different tone as well. One of the areas that I think motivated my behaviours that increased my speed, my push, and my resolve to achieve stems from a self-contmept. It sounds terrible, and it is even difficult to see it typed out on a screen let alone think that others might read it. Honestly, the focus on the unattainable, the high self-expectations, the need to be different, to be liked, to be defined by my feelings… these all seem to be on the road, yet again, but instead of them fuelling my ‘reason for being’ I just can’t carry them along the road anymore. I’ve dropped them. I’m sure that I will see them on the side of the road again, like I do now, but I just don’t think I need to pick them up; and if I do, I don’t think I will have the same attachment to them.
Several times in the last few weeks I have been reminded of a particular part of Thomas Merton’s ‘Seven Storey Mountain’. In seemingly random conversations this book keeps being mentioned and I am glad for the prompting to recall the read, which for me, was fundamental and foundational.
I should first say in context, the Seven Storey Mountain was one of the first books I read in what I could describe a spiritual journey. Merton’s book sat alongside, the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. There is a moment in the book where I thought, “finally someone else understands”. I cannot quote chapter and verse, but there is a part of the story in which Thomas Merton describes a holy moment as he stands on a busy New York street corner and knows in an instant that everybody, everything, and himself is with God. It sounds really simple, but for me it was the moment that I felt listened to and understood. I felt both alive and dead at the same time. Then it was gone. I have not felt like chasing this moment so as to repeat it as I know that it has and will be, always with me. The problem is that I’ve started going too fast, picking up unwanted ‘stuff’ and letting many of the ‘things/emotions/expectations’ that are flung at me, to stick. Rather than standing on the street corner with some kind of mystical experience I have slowly, gradually, turned myself somehow into a street performer juggling balls which all the passersby and onlookers have thrown another ball out and I have thought it vital to my being to make sure I catch the ball and add it too my act.
I suppose something had to happen as one can only juggle so much before all concentration is lost.
The ‘balls’ are starting to drop and they lay about my feet, and yet again I feel that I have found myself at the street corner, where everybody, everything, is simply in God. I don’t need to impress God with my juggling, and I don’t need to impress myself. I really don’t care what people think of me even though I struggle with this constantly, and I suppose I am learning to use these experiences not as tactics of shame and inadequacy, but to acknowledge there presence, to treat myself more gently, and choose to act in ways that are transformative, redemptive and beautiful.
My day to day tasks seem to take on a different light, and I am far less interested in propping up an institutional presence, or persona that speeds along aggressively achieving only so as to hide feelings of shame and inadequacy.
Now I walk a little slower and more intentionally; focused on the here and now, rather than on dwelling on what should been, or could be.