I wrote recently about all the emotional turmoil life was sending my way – or rather, that I was snatching out of the universal ebb and flow and clinging to unnecessarily. At the end of those musings, I even thought I had a handle on things, that I’d mentally resolved all the painful issues I tried to help friends deal with, being patient with my own feelings along the way, and was ready to move on mindfully.
My body rebelled against my unwise attachment to the status quo by felling me with a multi-day migraine; equanimity promptly went south…and left me gasping, literally, in the dark of early morning when night terrors wrenched me from a restless not-quite-sleep shot through with lingering but unrecallable dreams.
As is so often the case, writing came to my rescue. A 900+ word meandering sob-on-screen poured out during a weekly morning session with a fellow writer will likely never see the light of day (or a pair of eyes other than my own), but it helped clarify my thoughts – even the ones I didn’t know I had – by doing as French writer Maurice Blanchot says: “There can be this point, at least, to writing: to wear out errors.” I certainly wore myself out physically, mentally, and emotionally.
When Hubby came home from work and looked into my eyes, he knew, as he always does. He held me and comforted me, but he also gave me the emotional space I needed to work through the turmoil I couldn’t begin to explain. After a few quiet hours home alone together puttering around the yard, it hit me: the logical, analytical side of my brain was battling to make sense of feelings it had no business trying to explain. Pain just is; it’s a part of life, like eating and breathing. Beating myself up because I can’t find answers to questions I don’t need to be asking is an exercise in futility that only creates more pain. It’s a vicious cycle, one the Buddha tells us to avoid by letting go and simply living in the moment, accepting and experiencing every moment on its own terms before releasing it and moving on to the next.
In a book I reviewed recently called The Psychology of Spirituality, author Larry Culliford says, “When a loss is fully accepted, and only then, something is completed and the process can move on…painful emotions do not disappear but are transformed by the ‘catharsis,’ the release of energy, into their pain-free counterparts (anger/acceptance, shame/worth, etc.).” That day, from the nightmares, to the writing purge, to the Aha! moment in the garden, was my catharsis. I released the negative energy I’d been clinging to, all the pain my friends and I were experiencing, and flowed into acceptance.
I won’t be quite so cavalier this time and claim to have conquered the emotions, but I have learned a valuable lesson. It’s good to stop thinking occasionally, because while the unexamined life is not worth living, too much examination can make that same life unlivable.