It’s been quiet here in this corner. Or so it may seem. While on the exterior, all may seem calm and business-as-usual, but on the interior, it feels to me that my thoughts have packed up and gone on some sort of walk-about. They are suddenly quite elusive. They are here. They are there. Over there, wait, back over there. They are everywhere in between and can’t quite seem to stay in one place for any measurable amount of time.
As if my thoughts are separate from me, I sense a certain kind of reluctance on their part, to dive or delve too deeply into one particular area, but on any given day, it can feel like I have a multitude of thoughts that surely have some kind of velcro quality. I think, or rather find myself grasping, hopefully, that at least one of them has some kind of sticking power and then when I go in, dig deeper, and try to wrap them in some sequence of words, it’s as if they have taken on the nature of mercury, ever elusive.
When I was in high school, my best friend was the chemistry lab assistant and had in her possession, a key to the lab; on some days, we’d sneak in during lunch. We’d also open the lab cabinet and pull out the vial of mercury and watch it dart around on the smooth, slick, cool, black marble counters in our lab. I would try, earnestly and with amusement, to capture a bead of it with with my fingertips, and the outcome was the same each time; it was here, but when I went after it, well, it was over there.
Just like my thoughts.
So, I decided I needed to step away from them, it became far more frustrating trying to harness these thoughts that insisted on a vigorous game of hide and seek. I leaned in to the elusive nature of my thoughts, which has been equal parts mystifying and liberating. As I allowed that space, I began to observe my thoughts as if watching the clouds; they took on a nature of their own, and it finally became apparent to me.
They needed to.
I realized that while the thoughts themselves have been plentiful and scattered, and – yet somehow – what feels as shallow as a kiddie pool, it is likely an important part of this crazy process. It has been a big couple of years and one day while driving my normal route to coffee and work, I was suddenly and wholly irritated by something so very inconsequential. Trivial. I was upset with my own flare up and how I felt.
Cranky pants really don’t fit anyone very well.
And, it occurred to me, this notion of how big things can awaken us, get us on top of our game, get us to deal with adversity, conquer a fear, overcome a challenge; we dig in and we dig deep to get things done. Where when we are jolted in some way, by change, by loss, by something new and novel, all engines can fire up. We can summon focus and determination. We can overlook those trivial moments. And, then when we find the time to rest, that same power can somehow seem to re-calibrate and downshift from whirring and humming to well, just ho-humming.
There is a natural limit, I think, to this reservoir of extra that we give to things in these contexts; that makes sense. All things need replenishing after awhile. Gas tanks. Our bellies. Light Bulbs. Batteries. Nothing runs for ever without a a recharge. Including us and our brains. My brain has tackled some large matter over the last few years – endings, beginnings, changes, hellos, goodbyes, heart breaks, heart expansions, all of it.
I suppose that my thoughts retracted simply because they were tired and need some replenishment.
I realized only weeks later, that on that ill-fitting cranky pants day, that my reaction to the trivial incident of nothing more than a very slow driver in front of me was indicative that maybe I was relaxing, that perhaps I was beginning to enter a replenishment stage; and I had ample room to be too focused on something so trivial I think. And while that is a beautiful thing, as any of you have been through the big bad messy life things, there was also somehow a void. A lack of direction. A weird kind of emptiness.
In this same time of big things, I have learned, more than once, that when things feel like they are going to be hard, or hurt or be confusing, or just plain ol’ icky, that instead of resisting it, to just lean in to the difficulty and that by leaning in, that somehow, things don’t seem quite as difficult.
It’s taken me months to get my arms around this, to realize I needed to apply this same concept to my mercurial thoughts. And, to be honest, I was thirty thousand feet in the air, with white puffy clouds below and about three hours of sleep, trailing somewhere behind me as I corralled some of these thoughts, at last.
I needed to watch as if…