We will ebb and flow through hours and days and weeks and months and years over and over in a myriad of ways. Different ebbs will overlap various flows. We are always learning and growing and becoming. The expanding-contracting chaos will be unique for each of us but our same human condition connects us in that none of us are spared this cycle to Life. It is for us to decipher our needs and meaning and purpose. Sometimes there is no meaning, no definitions. Sometimes there is just some ‘next’ and that is okay.
Depression isn’t sadness that just stuck around. Sadness can/will/does lift. Depression is the cloudy and colored lens impacting the shade and warmth of ‘as far as the eye can see.’ Depression accompanies chronic pain frequently because of the mental ram required to constantly right our ship. If there is not a fan (relief) in your hard drive, it overheats and your computer acts wonky or stops working. With our energy zapped and capacity maxed, our ship lists. We see the world at an angle because our reality is relative and therefore also at an angle. Skewed. Off-kilter. Something is wrong.
The misunderstanding, stigma and suspicion that follows pain patients sorely compounds and complicates our journey. Dismissive terms like “pill-seeking, all in your head, phantom pain” follow us around. Not only do we daily deal with the onslaught of sorting the minutia when it comes to the constant impacts and adjustments, but we have to convince others this is our reality, even with our doctors, especially if we don’t look like we constantly battle a demon…
The what and why of Pensive Impulse is my witness. I see this space as one of movement with time, finger exercise and volume, deep breaths and cat stretch, therapy and sorting, practice and play — while locating my timbre. I write long-form, which is not everyone’s cup of tea but I’m also not trying to be everyone’s cup of tea. That would make for some boring tea time.
Today I’m learning to be content with less definition. My current mantra is ‘I’m okay and I will be okay.’ Because I will be.
It was 11pm. I was waiting on some samples to make their way up to my treetop lab with the viewing window, overlooking the sea of machinery below. Runs and belts and quart bottles bobbing over rollers. It was just me on second shift now. My trainer, a college student in chemistry, barely younger than myself, had moved back to day shift. The job wasn't complicated compared to last one - running a cold store of millions of compounds to prepare for scientific testing in product development. There was a solid plan for moving up management here, they had said in the interview. “Yes, sounds great.”
What is it about a campfire that fixes our stare?
As we sit in front of something so dangerous, deadly even.
The lodgepole pine requires the heat of fire to melt the resin of its pinecone, releasing the seeds.
The very thing that destroys is required for rebirth. Life’s paradox.
Crafted across one of the bulletin boards I maintained for 70 freshman girls on the third floor, as their barely twenty-something RA, was one question …
What does this picture say?
It says I didn’t give up all those years. It says I wanted to, I almost did, I tried, but I’m still here.
It says I still keep trying despite weekly pain spikes and daily flares and the host of what goes with just a half hour kayak trip.
Gone the ways of the appendix and pinkie toe, the failure muscle is a defunct mass of sinew. There's just no need for it. The muscles we do need - Resilience. Response. Self-grace. Self-compassion. Other-grace. Other-Compassion. They get stronger with practice. Build those muscles, add them to the circuit. That practice comes every time we catch ourselves in the moment, in real time and reframe through recognizing ourselves living the human condition, like everyone else. Our humanness. That we all enjoy. And sometimes don't enjoy.
I tell my children there is no failure, it's all just data points. Information. Information where we gain insight about ourselves, about others, about whatever-it-was we're working on or trying out or going through. Information that can be applied and used to inform further action and decision. You can graph that shit. Our posture towards failure can make failure a tripping point or a data point. Francis Bacon was right, "Knowledge is power."
Think for a moment about your definition of failure. What types of situations cause your inner critic to go wild? "I'm such a failure, I'll never change, I knew this would happen, why did I even try, I'm so stupid, I can't believe I did that, no one else would have done that, seriously no one else." What is your posture towards failure? Are you afraid to fail? To be seen failing? What does failure say about who you are?
People, like Ogres, are like onions. We have layers; sometimes we stink.
For me, layers are discovered in repetition. That takes time. My unbounded inner world that springs poetic leaks relies on the frayed threads from the worn bindings of overuse.
Welp, that didn't pan out. It's not too soon to laugh, it is too soon not to feel embarrassed.
This canvas print hangs in my studio, pretty sure it came from Target years ago. I love the on purpose prompt of purpose.
Most days, I follow a ritual morning-and-evening moment of meditation that help me get into a posture of reviewing my Intentions for the day, for the night.
*Warning - Triggers, difficult topic, graphic imagery*
Author Note: As I post more frequently, I am weaving in posts I drafted when I first considered taking Pensive Impulse live; only took four years, I acquired it in 2012! This is the very first post I wrote in April 2016, but not the first one I published.