Sunday, 30 January 2011

Live A Life, Not Win A Fight

You know how we're supposed to take stock of the year gone by at the beginning of the new one? To make promises for a better, brighter year. Resolutions. Well, yesterday I realised that the January is almost past. The sun is out. I read the blogs of people from more temperate climates and see them posting pictures of the first little plants braving the frosty earth. And I remember, from my days in Portugal, how the spring, for me, seemed to come with the beginning of February. So, I'd like to think that despite the freezing temperatures and snow and more snow, the spring is on its way. Come on, now, the flower shop at the nearby supermarket has brought out its seed shelf! But what I'm getting at is this, I have not made a single resolution for this brand new year. Haven't yet even so much as stopped to think back to the year we just left , to reflect on it all that much. Until yesterday.

There's a song by a British band The Editors called When Anger Shows

''It pulls you to the ground like soaking wet gloves
The change in your face when anger shows.''

For the past couple of weeks, I've been battling with not only growing exhaustion and the ever present fear of what that might entail, but also with feelings of anger. And that's not ok. That's not '' yeah ok but well it's all good it's all feelings, you know''. Anger is not good. It breeds hate, hatred. Bitterness and cruelty. It's like some slimy monster that starts its life as a small black spot at the center of your soul only  to grow little by little every time you feed it by giving your feelings of hatred permission to take over your mind. And before you realise, your smile is gone. Your eyes have become opaque to the beauty of everything around you. The anger has spread its tentacles to every part of your being, and even your body starts to speak a new langue. A language of defense and attack. 

Gandhi certainly had a point there.

I've heard this term of 'embracing anger' being used in context of glorifying it. In making it something to cherish, something to keep alive. I have seen, I know, what it can do. How it destroys the people who are angry, who hate, just as much as it does the lives of those it touches by proxy. Anger is addictive. You can get seriously hung up on the adrenaline rush. But in the end, it will, one way or another, burn you out. Without an exception. Now, there's anger and there's anger. What I'm talking abut here is not the 'damn-this-sock-not-another-hole-again-I-hate-my-life' sort of thing. I'm talking about the bona fide cold kind of hate, grown out of anger, and capable of terrible things. So, yes, embrace anger. Embrace it to death. Kiss it until it can no longer breath its poisonous fumes. Kiss it like my Daughter says, '' million trillion zillion times and infinite amount too'' when she wants me to cover her little face in little butterfly kisses. 

And frankly, I was not a little lost with these feelings of mine, not knowing how to deal, because you simply can not just brush something under the carpet and pretend its not there. What it will do is keep growing in hiding until there's a huge elephant right there in your room, a hulking mass under the carpet that you have to tiptoe around in fear of waking it. Also, in the past few weeks, some friends of mine have been going through a patch of seriously sad and upsetting stuff in their lives, and having to deal with that, no, make that being priviledged to be there to help what little I could, has made my getting rid of these feelings that much tougher. Sometimes, the extent to which us humans are capable of hurting each others just seems too damn much. Then, last night, I got an e-mail from a friend. And while it wasn't anything special as such, no marriages, babies, what you might expect, something in that letter just quite simply brought back to me the feeling of warmth, of calm in the middle of the storm. 

Friends. Love you.

So this morning, you know what I did? I danced while doing the ironing. Sung while doing the laundry. Hummed while pricking my finger on a needle trying to fix a ripped off ribbon on a vintage pillowcase. And saw the sun. Don't get caught up in the negativity. Let it shine. Peace.

And just in case somebody now thinks I am advocating endless turning of the other cheek, of allowing people to walk all over you, trust me, I'm not. There is a book by a Swedish psychologist,  Anna K√•ver, called '' At Leva Ett Liv, Inte Vinna Ett Krig'' which, I'm afraid, has not been translated into English but basically means '' To Live A Life, Not Win A Fight''. She talks about seeing both your outer and inner reality, and accepting it. This acceptance does not mean stopping working towards changing the things in your life that need changing, it means stopping the fight against yourself and of life itself. According to her, there is an inherent paradox in this kind of acceptance, you can accept your situation as is and still continue to actively work and live according to your own values and objectives. 

Accepting reality, both in- and outside of yourself does not mean approving of it, but rather  it is a starting point for true change, for freedom. And living a life of constant mental fight is anything but freedom. Just ask any of the chronic PTSD sufferers around the globe. And yes, I know, I am obviously talking here from the relative perspective of the privileged westener. To those having to deal with the daily struggle of hunger, of war, these musings would obviously sound like what, to them, they undoubtedly are, ridiculous warblings, but we can, each of us, only truly see from our own subjective view and to each of us, there is only truly our own reality. And if us 'privileged westeners' weren't so hell bent on being angry with ourselves and everything round us, so busy with hating, of being bitter enough to think nothing can ever change, maybe there would be less hunger, less wars. Yeah, I wear my heart on my sleeve alright.

This year, I've learned the value of true friendship. I've learned that distance, being it geographical or that of time has little significance if there is true kinship of humans. I've learned to appreciate and respect who I am, and what my values in life are, so much more. I've had people enter my life, old acquaintances and new. And had some leave, old and new. There has been new life, babies born. And life that ended too soon, too abruptly. Leaving sorrow and the endless yearning of a child for its mother in its wake. I can still feel the tears coming when I think of that. I've made some very tough decisions, which, like dropping a stone to water, have caused ripples that will still take a long time to settle. All in all, it's been a year full of life. And you know what, I realised just a few days ago hearing someone complain about boredom, that I can not even remember when was the last time I felt that. So, quite likely, it's also been an entire year without ever having felt bored. Now there's a feat.

I have a pair of shoes sitting on top of a chest of drawers in my bedroom. Recently bought online, vintage. High heels, round toes, ankle straps. Petrol blue suede with antique gold trims. Photo will have to wait as I am currently sans camera. I keep them there instead of sticking them in the closet because they remind me that sooner than I think the roads will be clear of ice and I can put these shoes on, my dancing shoes, and give them a swirl on the sidewalk outside. Never mind the people watching, who cares if they think I'm nuts. I'll just accept that as their reality, keep dancing, and who knows, maybe, eventually, somebody will join me. Feel free.

1 comment:

  1. I love the quote "To Live a Life, Not Win a Fight". It is so true that everyone seems to be fighting for something, when all we need to do is just let go, and see where the flow takes us. Which is easy to say, but hard to do, I know! I wish you all the best during this difficult time of lupus. From what I have read in your posts, you have peace and love in your heart, so you are in a good place. Let me know when you go dancing on the side walk, I'll do the same on my end ;)