This House, This Self
I wasn’t going to add my thoughts to all the thoughts out there. I was going to stay quiet during this time and just sit and listen to the sounds the world is offering me from my front step. But today I’d like to write something down and take a moment to check in with myself. So I thought in doing that I would share a piece of me in this time with anyone who might need it. Hi, if you’re reading, I hope you’re doing okay.
Yesterday I felt the heaviness of things sitting stubbornly between the top part of my ribs. I felt its channels sending an ache through me. I felt my bottom lip wobble. And then the inevitable flood came after. When you cry without knowing what all the crying is about, it creates this feeling of something coming out in the wash- all the colours running and mingling together. It can be both excruciating and painful and also a welcome calming release. In that moment there is a letting go.
You have to let go to build yourself back up again. And our lives are made of lots of mini demolitions of the self; felling and growing trees of experience and hope and pain and desire and challenge and thought and joy. But really I don’t need to destroy to recreate- I am all of the me in me. I am all the selves lined up in a row and finding their way back to each other, merging in the 4:30pm light on the front step outside my flat.
In this time the world is experiencing a pause and a crumbling. Aspects of what we have built turn to rubble and in an emergency something new has the potential to emerge. There are people fighting to survive. There are people wondering where they can get one of those really good loaves of bread from. There are people who have been in bed for 4 days. There are people who have never been so productive in all their life. There are people relieved they don’t have to see a certain someone everyday at work. There are people who are noticing the way sunlight catches dust in its rays when it pours through a window. There are people who have lost. And won. We all lose something in this. But we also stand to gain a great deal too.
I think there are probably a few inspirational videos out there already, that illustrate the points I am making (if indeed there is a point). I just wonder whether in this time of felling society’s unhelpful trees- or pillars- through which we have constructed the models of our world and thought and existence, we are also building new architectures of the self. The rooms and doorways in me are changing day-to-day. I notice this house I have built for myself and I notice the leak in the roof and the window ajar all these years that wants closing. I notice the basement where I never go and pretend does not exist. I notice the room all colourful with splatters of paint on the wall and beautiful calm lighting. I notice a corridor that leads to a memory. I notice the edges and curves and creaks and sighs of this home in ways I have not necessarily considered before.
We have been given a strange gift here. In this pause. A pause that brings fear and contemplation and, of course, so sadly for some, death. What is essential to me in this moment is totally different to someone on a ventilator in a hospital where there aren’t enough beds. But we are now all perhaps transcending the unnecessary in search of the essential. Whatever that might be. It is something that is ‘invisible to the eye’, as the fox in 'The Little Prince' says.
I haven’t got much else to say. The heaviness has lifted today. I’m grateful for that in this moment. And so I am being open-hearted and more accepting of myself. And on that note, the more acceptance we gain of the self the better we will be at connecting with our world and others. This is a time of appreciating others in ways we may not have done before. We all have a responsibility to this world. We can all be a part of forming new processes where more of us flourish and thrive. It is a new intention we must seek to set ourselves in the face of uncertain times.
A few quotes/poems that might help inspire that space in us all to start to reconnect with ‘the self’, in whatever way works for you of course…
Musing takes place in a kind of meadowlands of the imagination, a part of the imagination that has not yet been ploughed, developed, or put to any immediately practical use…time spent there is not work time, yet without that time the mind becomes sterile, dull, domesticated. The fight for free space — for wilderness and public space — must be accompanied by a fight for free time to spend wandering in that space. - Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Everything special about being human- our capacity for love and art and friendship and stories and all the rest- is not a product of modern life; it is a product of being a human. And so, while we can’t disentangle ourselves from the transient and frantic stress of modern life, we can place an ear next to our human self and listen to the quiet stillness of being. And realise that we don’t need to distract ourselves from ourselves. Everything we need is right here. Everything we are is enough. - Matt Haig: Notes on a Nervous Planet