There’s no Plan B when the body is a hostile home for the soul. No second options or vacation bodies. No avatars or second skins hanging in the closet. Just your everyday ride that used to cruise just fine on a couple of fuel-ups a day, and is now coughing and sputtering, all herky-jerky, with warning lights and alarms, in rush-hour traffic.
That’s what it felt like in my mid-thirties. Broken down in the emergency lane of life. Divorced, broke and broken, living in friends’ garages and sheds while I picked through the wreckage of my dreams. Pulling myself together for the 3 days a week I had custody of my son took every effort I had. Mostly, I was lying down, staring catatonic at the wall. I had so much grief, and no container to safely hold it. No place to fall apart with a guarantee of being able to pull it back together again. Stress piled up causing back-to-back flare trains that had me begging for pain-killers from an increasingly skeptical doctor. My blood tests had come back negative for all the ailments matching my symptoms, I had no medical insurance and I was running out of options. Running out of money. And running out of the wherewithal to carry on.
Bleak. It was just bloody bleak. They don’t prepare you for this in school. No lessons coded in nursery rhymes to advise about life implosion. No handy manuals, no 101 course in Picking Up The Pieces With Hands That Don’t Work. Just…rock bottom. Perhaps you’ve been there. Every day a bleak grind of existence, just treading water in a pool of hurts with no hope of relief. No hope at all, really. Bleak.
Standing in my friend Scott’s experimental papercrete shed next to a pile of cardboard boxes of my stuff, amid the rivers of tears and despair and self-pity, the pain and depression and loss, there was nothing I could do but accept it. Accept that I was a whipped, wet puppy the sum of whose best efforts had yielded this…mess.
No, even better, I was going to CHOOSE this. Surrender to it. Give it all the power and the magic I could muster. It would be my Teacher and my Companion. My Intimate, even as it was my nemesis. Whatever it might bring to me I would embrace, for that was my real life, not the life I wished for. In that moment I felt a giddy sense of falling, like my spirit had flung up its hands and thrown itself backward out of my body. It was so palpable I had to sit down to avoid falling over.
As I sat I had to think over what I had just thought, it had moved me so. My world had subtly shifted from the inside. Surrendering had created a whole new possible way to be in the face of my circumstances. The ‘grip’ I had felt in my body from fearing what was happening was replaced by a glowing sense of returning power, and I felt profoundly grateful.