It's a rough go, living life without an anesthetic. About 2 weeks ago I ran into a quote from John Paul II that's been on my mind ever since: "I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape." And so I've been working for that deliberate awareness, that consciousness of being fully where I am, with all I am -- not just going through the motions of duty with only a skeleton crew left to mechanistically operate my body, but fighting constantly not to use my far too well-honed skills of running away.
I'm sleeping, eating, breathing, stretching, taking time for myself, relaxing -- working like a dog, stumbling into anxiety, losing the presence and the centering peace I'd been grasping so fully just a few moments ago. My presence flickers in and out; it's a worse feeling than just being completely out of it, because you have it, then you don't, and then you have it, and it suddenly snaps off, and... It's a way to use my stubbornness for good, this holding-on to letting-go. Like unwinding tight muscles, scraping and stretching through the fascial layers to pull freedom into your sinews.
So many stories in the past few weeks I've chosen not to write, because I've chosen to do other things with my time. I'll just say that my cousins (and their significant others) are fantastic, and this is the all-too-brief time of us being young adults together, sipping fig-steeped bourbon late at night after a day wandering the city, talking about the sorts of random things that people in their twenties talk about. And that not having hearing aids is actually a visible effect to other people in terms of how it changes my behavior.
And I have slowed my reading and my writing, because they are so often escapes (as I have said before), and in my practice of presence I am painfully aware of how stilted and unsatisfying they are, how little they grasp at, how feeble their power is in my hands. I know it's a sign of developing mastery to be able to see flaws, but it doesn't make it easy to see the paltriness of your abilities, how much you're wasting your energies and talents and... yourself.
But that's the only way that you can start to make it better.
Maybe I should start writing through pulling up poems I've found of use. Today I'll pull up a small part of Teilhard de Chardin's famous Jesuit prayer, which I see as painful echoes through my research as well as in the rest of me -- it's strange, how the misaligned clingings within you that keep you from being really you, and really here, and really free, show up in tiny fractures, jiltings, guises all throughout all aspects of your life.
Anyway. The poem, which I think is actually prayer. It's like someone wiser speaking to impatient me, and young impatient me listens with a bit of grumbling and swearing in the midst of a grudging admission that yes, Teilhard, you're absolutely right.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
-- that is to say, grace --
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Later on, de Chardin says to "accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete." I'm... I'm trying. I wish my muscles would strengthen faster. I wish my papers would write themselves. I wish I could deal with this all by sprinting really fast, with laser hyperfocus that doesn't stop to breathe or rest until it's All Done Done Done Done, because I can do that -- I'm good at that. It wrecks me, but I'm good at that.
But that is not what I am doing now. Which means I am fumbling through whatever I am doing now, because I am not very good at other ways of being yet.
Okay. Stand up. This post is not a perfect post. But it is far along enough to have helped you think through a sliver of the work -- not homework, but interior work on yourself -- you need to be doing. Now stand up and go to your next place and do your next job. Go.