Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence.
Slow down and down in always widening rings of being.
No to-do list is going to get me there.
There. Where worry ends.
There. Where it feels safe.
There. Where I’m home.
A monster shouts: “You must figure out your mailing list thing!”
And another: “You must get that new page up.”
And another: “Quit being so anxious or everything you do will come from fear.”
And yet another: “What’s the use. You may have good ideas, but you are paralyzed. What’s the use. You will always be a loser, maybe smart, but a loser nonetheless.”
Ah yes. Thanks for sharing. Onward!
Except for the fact that fear has, in effect, grounded all planes.
<Cue sad trombone>
There is nothing to do now but sit and notice. Oddly, just that brings a hint of relief:
There is nothing to do now but sit and notice.
It’s been weeks now, the 4AM-waking-up thing. (Except for Sunday, when the clocks changed and I woke up at—wait for it!—3, which is to say, thankyouverymuch, 4).
<Again with the sad trombone>
At dark:thirty it’s hard to ignore what’s wanting your attention. I mean, you can try, but there’s not much by way of distraction. And you can struggle to sleep, but sleep and struggle were never good bed fellows. (heh!)
Of course you could pretend it’s 7 and get up and get busy. But you’re onto that thought. Plus, you’re a mood detective! And so this morning you sit up in bed, wrap a
blanket curiosity cape around you, and try to channel the Buddha. (Some people call this meditation).
You notice how hard you feel: things feel hard and you feel hard. A wall around your heart kind of hard. Numb and brittle-hard. Fragile-hard. Hard all around.
You understand about defending against what you’re scared of. You understand about being afraid of what’s dark. You understand about homeland security. You understand about terror. You know war. It’s an inside job.
You could call in the light brigades. You could bomb the bastards. You could smoke them out of their caves. But we know how that goes. All wars are civil wars.
So you sit. There you are, on a wall. Hello, frustration. Hello, fear. And oh! Hello! If it isn’t…
[He doesn’t answer. He’s shivering. Let’s try again. Maybe let’s try un-exclamating and un-bolding the font this time.]
[Still no answer.]
“Are you cold?”
What can I say. When I’m nervous I sometimes state the obvious.
He’s chattering so hard I’m afraid he’s going to go and crack up right on top of the wall here, before ever there being an actual event to report, like a fall. And then, not only would there be a mess on top of the wall, but we, by which I mean I, would be responsible for ruining the age-old nursery rhyme, to boot.
I’m going to be here for a while, I can tell. Plus, I remind myself, I am channeling the Buddha.
I notice I want to save him, to keep him from falling. I want to tell him that the story doesn’t end well if he goes ahead and falls. The experts won’t be able to mend things. The people running the world are, in fact, more f*cked up than he is, and really, it’d just be a horrible mess.
But I bite my tongue. For about a minute.
“Do you need anything?”
Apparently, he doesn’t like questions. They put him on the spot and, I’m cluing in, he’s already on the spot. That, plus, he’s onto me. He knows my questions are much more about me trying to alleviate my own discomfort than about what he might really need.
So I keep sitting. I’m nearby, but not too close. And certainly not in his face. The last thing you want to do is startle an egg on the ledge. I’ve learned a thing or two from police shows.
His eyes dart around. His shoulders are up to the ears he would have if he weren’t an egg, and his head is way forward. (Work with me). His brow is furrowed and his egg-chest is sunken in. His legs are twitching. Classic signs of tension. I notice these things and, am proud to say, say nothing.
It is now a quarter till dawn. We’ve been sitting on the ledge, he and I, for what feels like ever. Egg time moves verrrrry slowly. Especially in the dark.
At some point I stop pretending he’s not right here inside of me, a part of me. I get more curious. That’s about when he starts calming down. His body is still shaking but he seems less agitated.
But he sure does still look cold. I get a soft woolen blanket and very quietly, set it nearby. If he wants it, he’ll get it. I notice that he doesn’t flinch or pull away, and when I am back at a safe distance and seemingly not noticing, he reaches for the blanket and wraps it around him.
I sit and notice the urge to say something smart, to blame something—his upbringing, his estranged family, the Easter Bunny—and I bite my tongue.
Then I notice the urge to leave, to get up, to get busy, to turn on some screen or another. If I can’t fix things inside with my inner Humpty Dumpty and make this fear go away and never come back, then at least I can distract myself, no?
But I stay.
The Buddha, who apparently I’m no longer channeling because he has just come and joined us on the wall and now he looks just like the freaking Dalai Lama, says something to me in Tibetan. Or maybe it’s Pali. Not sure. But either way, I don’t understand.
I raise my eyebrow, as if to say, “Come again in a language I know?”
Notice I say, “as if,” because I don’t actually say that. At least not out loud. I’m catching on to this silence thing and how most things I say when I’m scared are really just blah-blah-blah and, quite frankly, I’m bored. Given the choice of scared and bored, or just scared, I’ll pick just scared. Just. As if! Still. You get my point.
So now it’s me. And Humpty Dumpty. And the Dalai Lama, who, I might add, looks to be smiling.
Smiling? you ask.
I know, right?
To be sure, it’s not like he’s laughing at us or anything. It’s more a smile like he’s onto something I don’t quite get. Yet. The “yet” is definitely implied. Whew! And also? It’s a warm smile. Very warm. As if to say: “all is really truly OK, including you.” As if—get this—he has confidence in me.
I want to say, “But Your Holiness Mr. Lama, I’m very scared. And I don’t know shit. And I’m just one girl. And look! Humpty! Who will put him together again if he goes and jumps?”
But I don’t. Because I’m practicing silence. And sitting. And noticing, by way of writing, which is my way.
Thank goodness for pens, curiosity capes and listening caps. Best secret powers, ever.