Do you ever want to escape, I mean really get away from it all? I sure do. It’s not an uncommon thing to want. We all tire of the humdrum in our day-to-day and long for a change. That’s what vacations are for. But what of the bigger stuff, the messy world around us? Where can we vacation to help with that?
With the arrival of social media, our phones and computers now carry images and sounds once reserved for the nightly news. That relatively benign household TV is suddenly everywhere, too, flashing us with looping scenes of violence. Who can blame us for longing to set up on a remote island? Thing is, it’s not a real option. So, just how do we successfully ignore the worst of humanity’s offerings? Well, I think I’m finding a way.
Now, I’m not talking about permanently affixing rose-coloured specs. That wouldn’t be wise. Facing the yang along with the yin establishes a balance which enables us to more healthily relish life in its unified, interdependent, and complementary whole. But, it’s not an easy skill to develop. Most of us run at the first hint of anything uncomfortable. Or, do we? The paradox is that we actually spend oodles of time, not to mention precious energy, on topics we profess to dislike. From vehement condemnation of what (and who) we think is vile, to the rehashing of our dramas via gossipy, spiteful rants, we form walls made with our countless grievances. The problem is these apparently harmless complaints are not harmless at all. They are insidious, divisive acts. They keep stress alive in our bodies, put strain on our hearts – all our organs, actually – and relationships.
A primary reason for starting this blog (remember Redo 365?) was so I’d get honest and confront the lies I was telling myself (and others). I stopped procrastinating by holding back a lot of fear. Going public provided the catalyst necessary to move rather quickly through some grim stuff. Still a work-in-progress, however, I recently become very aware that learned behaviours are likely multi-layered so don’t necessarily shift at one go. Plus, personalities are unique. A process that works for one might not work for another even if their start is similar.
In the beginning, if we need food, we cry. The food comes, we stop crying. Soon, we challenge the innocent naivete of those first actions by adding words to the mix and so on. Through experimentation and mimicry we figure out how to behave, altering our conduct accordingly. We grow and mature, or that’s the hope. Some folks flow easily with social constructs living, generally speaking, happy, successful, and healthy lives. They neither hassle the world around them nor dig too deep into their own psyches. Others experience something different.
There are individuals out there who don’t do simple. They live intricate, complicated, and difficult lives. Their minds, for whatever reason, are overrun by chatter. Coined “cerebral types” these individuals live dually – simultaneously in the world and in their head. You might think you don’t know any because you’re not familiar with the signs to look for, but they are out there and, for the most part, they are struggling. They are, no matter their cool outer facades, waging wars inside themselves. Some take their conflicts to their families, friends, and neighbours, while others end up mystics, speaking prophetically in an effort to lift us all from the muck. Whatever path is taken, these sensitive types are often regarded as outcasts and oddballs. Stubbornly reclusive, they can be their own best friend and worst enemy. They are living examples of yin and yang’s extremes rather than its balance. But I digress…
Shortly after returning from vacation in March, my mood fell. Lethargy set in. I managed to push through the motions required of my day-to-day convincingly enough, but the grind was taking its toll. I began waking up everyday filled with dread. Restless and angry, it didn’t take long for my world to turn grey. And although grey isn’t a new colour for me, this time around there were some differences like the physical sickness I felt. Even worse, my symptoms seemed unprovoked and random. Despite telling myself “this too shall pass” I was disheartened. And then it hit me. I wasn’t telling a story, I was listening to one.
I’ve written a fair bit about telling new stories and there are plenty of memes floating around assuring us it’s a way forward. What isn’t mentioned is that the process is gradual and requires us to not just speak new words, but to hear differently, too. And, we must be vigilant. Our destructive habits stem from what Eckhart Tolle calls the “pain body”. That “body” will fight to survive. As long as it thrives, however, we cannot. We will stay lost in a world of sorrow and recriminations.
It is different for everyone, of course. Not everybody wants to change their perspective which is okay. They don’t need to. But if you are feeling blue, angry, anxious, or resentful, etcetera, you can heal by telling yourself a new story about the world around you and your place in it. Just remember to be patient. Change is not necessarily quick or easy.
Transformation always comes via our emotional field. We can’t ever think our way there. We often need an ah-ha or epiphanic moment, too. When that happens, if we follow-up by acting on the awareness we’ve been shown, the potential for lasting change is galvanized. Science has delivered irrefutable proof of our power to heal ourselves. In some cases it might be as simple as abandoning stress for calm surrender or laughter. Whatever method we choose, we give our bodies, minds, and spirits a break. There, in the quiet space of the break-time, we can begin to make our way toward wellness.
My escape isn’t complete yet, by the way, but I am hearing a new voice within, a voice rising above disparaging ones, effectively quieting denigrating comments about me, my past and present, and about the world at large. It’s quite something to let the voices have at it. By not interfering, the new narrative is taking shape organically. I hear a kinder, more loving internal dialogue. Who knows, with a more compassionate account, I might not need that remote island. In the end, it really does come back to us.
Let’s all make a wish today. You can pick different things, but I’ll start. I’m going to wish for the feeling of eager anticipation that rises as your lover approaches, the gasp that catches in your throat as a whale breaches a diamond sea, or the exquisite softness of a child’s hand when it moves into your own. Pain is real my lovely ones, but equal and greater, is joy. Dig deep for stories of grace, forgiveness, and reparation. They are there, too.