Forgive me for being so plain, but all things aside – including the alchemy of eternity being the steady stream of each moment pouring into the next – my purpose for being here today is to plunge into the water, as far as I can tell.
This lake, viewed from the sky, takes the shape of a long crooked finger. Or you can go higher, to where the atmosphere brushes its backbone up against space, to see that finger as a fleshless bone. But from here, submerged in the warm and cool pockets of earth’s embryonic fluid, the lake is smooth, polished, for the moment undisturbed, except for the fading ripples made by me. It exists in a moment of perfect silence sought by many, found by few. If you listen closely enough, you can hear it whispering:
“May my breath be your breath. My heat, yours. My fluid strength, my supple resilience, yours. May you give up your crowded loneliness to me, press me to your forehead as a cool cloth easing a fever. Nothing but the chest can contain the heart, nothing can protect it but the rib cage.”
The lake’s words ring true. Sometimes the walls of alone-ness press in on us, even as we long for solitude. Sometimes we long for something we think we don’t have. Sometimes we forget that we too are part of nature – that we, too, are included in this thing that so often astounds us.
I bliss out when I experience the connection between walking and writing, just as surely as I use the “no candy” checkout line in the grocery store, or sacrifice my dignity for a cheap laugh.
Walking in the woods – especially with my cellphone turned off – is always a reminder for me to re-evaluate The Question: what’s the rush? It just agrees with me. Taking a time-out from everything I “should” be doing, or need to do, and tuning in to the simplicity and complexity of the natural world, via ideal heart-rate and blood-flow, is where it’s at.
I really enjoyed the recent article in Poets and Writers magazine, explaining how Charles Dickens wrote for five hours a day and then spent the rest of the afternoon taking extended walks. What a dream schedule for the everyday workingman such as myself! I’m going to be 40 this year, and for the first time in my life I see the need to slow down as paramount to my sanity, and my ability to stay centered. One can be ambitious in many different ways, and life in the fast lane can lose its luster.
What exactly is it that we’re all rushing toward these days? Maybe financial security or social status, or maybe it’s a cerebral reaction to the current technology. Maybe it’s fear that we’ll arrive at the last outpost of our lives feeling like failures, obsessing over all the things we didn’t do, all the places we didn’t go. Or maybe we’re unconsciously trying to fit in with others around us who are striving for superhuman goals.
All I know is I messed up a lot of stuff in my younger years, whirling and twirling in a wild rush. Now I need to slow down and think about things before I do them, and just do the best I can each day. I think it’ll be fine. I don’t think I’ll be on my deathbed thinking “dammit, if only I would have multi-tasked more efficiently!”
When things unravel with such fury, you conclude Something must be held responsible.
So you blame, though the Something is often beautiful.
A nameless urge tugs at your navel but you don’t follow it, though it takes everything to not leap headlong.
You turn, instead, and look inside – the way winter taught you.
One way to help heal depression is to let yourself feel your grief, really allow it to sink in. If you don’t settle down into your center all will be lost, and eventually you’ll grow numb to everything. The world will turn to useless plastic jibberish before your very eyes. Don’t be resigned to that – break your heart all the way open and keep going.
Don’t bother trying to sleep it off, because the fatigue brought on by depression is not one that can be remedied with physical rest. A symptom is not a cure. You’ve got to drag yourself, kicking and screaming, out into life, with grief or without it. And at the same time, you’ve got to accept that you’re not immune to it, that you’re only human. Make no mistake, it will burden the sturdiest shoulders, weigh down the highest-held head. A kind and fortunate king surrounded with opulence and feast-laden tables will slouch down on his throne beneath its stifling mantle, one hand shielding his eyes from golden lights – while a friendless beggar who has accepted his own heart’s sadness dances a lively jig outside in the rain and snow.
When did I grow older? I never really noticed.
Where did the time go? I guess I wasn’t keeping track.
What happened to my eyes, hair, hands? Something must’ve changed when I wasn’t looking.
That person in the mirror is older than I am, I’m sure of it.
Alright, I suppose it’s really me. But I just can’t believe it.
I don’t know why I can’t believe it.
I’ve been watching it happen to everyone else.
That must be why I didn’t notice it happening to me.