Reverb13: Day 18
Peace: In the midst of living, did you find moments to breathe? Were there moments that held you in the embrace of peace and quiet and pure contentment? Did these moments catch you by surprise or did you create the space for peace to find you?
It may surprise you, Dear Reader, to discover that I am not a peaceful soul. My mind races constantly and I’m easily distracted. I am a worrier, a doomsday naysayer, a pessimist and a sufferer of severe and chronic agita. The slightest sound and I am up for the night, beset by insomnia and Restless Everything Syndrome. A small stressor and my bowels revolt, setting phasers to either Frequent or Maybe Once This Week If You’re Lucky depending on their whim. I feel injustices acutely and my fight-or-flight response has a hair trigger with a split end. It ain’t no reaction if it’s not an OVERreaction. Anxiety attacks, night terrors, rage issues…these are all part of my every day.
I’ve tried yoga and meditation, massage and acupressure. Talk therapy, light therapy, narcotic therapy. None of them have ever been anything but fleetingly effective. And you know what? It’s okay. It’s taken some time, but I’ve gradually accepted that I will never be one of those “grow where you’re planted” zenmasters. I’m just not wired that way. There are no breathing exercises that slow the breakneck speed of my thoughts, and I’ll never exude the unadulterated joy and love that comes so naturally to the Dalai Lama, but I have discovered and cultivated small things that ease the pressure and make me fit for human consumption.
And so, my tension hacks:
If my mind is on over drive, and I can’t breathe, I just breathe harder. I go to the gym. With the music loud and my body pushing pushing pushing to that edge, I am able to squeeze out everything but what is happening in that specific moment. When I am hitting those plyo lunges and tuck jumps and my quads and lungs are burning and nausea is justthisclose, there is nothing else that my mind can focus on beyond the immediate discomfort and the gritty determination to bang out 15, 14, 13, JUST 12 MORE perfect reps. And when those reps are finished, and my heart rate slows to normal, there is nothing left in that tank but this perfect exhaustion; a quiet moment of fatigue and accomplishment where I won and was more powerful than the anger, the stress, the anxiety. For that 30 or 55 minute session, I am able to let the beat take over, switch on to autopilot, and rest my weary head.
I also read. A lot. The voices in my head are like children and kids love a good story. If I want them to shut up, I simply ply them words expertly woven and let my eyes fly across the page. If the author knows her stuff, those beasts are lulled to sleep on a flight of fancy, and I’m thankful for the reprieve, those little moments where the problems are not my own and go away with the simple folding shut of a cover.
And beyond those two things, temporary fixes for a permanent problem, there is the one, the end all, the panacea, The Coast. The closer I draw to a roaring body of water, the quieter my demons’ rattling chains. If perchance, I am able to dip my toes into salty water, their wailing stops completely and every buzzing sinew of my frame slows to my breath and suddenly I am made of patience and peace. There is a small caché, my Beach Cottage Fund, which grows slowly over the years, but steadily, as dime by dime, I approach my own piece (my own PEACE), a little house on the water with a slanted board fence and mismatched pottery mugs on the shelves.
So peace is something that I have to fight for, to work towards, to work FOR. It is an effort, and costly, and I pay for it with the violence I wage every day against myself. I cannot imagine that 2014 will be any different. I am me, with a capital H-I-G-H-S-T-R-U-N-G, and the two hours it took to bang out these words are proof. But I cope, and I function, and I am able to create spaces of quiet, and that may be half the battle.