Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Was It Always This Easy?

Something has...happened. The refrain around here has been "I hesitate to blog about this," and I could repeat that in this post, too, but for entirely different reasons. Whereas before I didn't want to divulge too much about my personal "situation," now I'm afraid of jinxing it. Or embarrassing myself with corniness. Whatever--suck it up, heu!

So I was feeling really awful last week, and for most of the week before that. Really, really awful. Teaching on the verge of tears awful. (That was only one day, thank god.) Not awful all the time; I felt okay sometimes, but there was this terrible fragility and that awful feeling that my future had been emptied out, lost, rendered meaningless. It took work, serious work, for me to feel okay enough to function. Then I had that realization on Saturday, that my life isn't in that mythical fantasy apartment in Brooklyn or whatever the hell I imagine it to be, but is this thing, right here. And that night I went out with some colleagues and had a wonderful time--I was looking at them, and the restaurant, and the band, and feeling what I might describe (if I didn't fear flakiness) as a transcendent joy--these were good people, this was fun, life was good.

Here's what's weird. I haven't really lost that feeling. It's Wednesday, and I have been so happy for the last--what is it--five days? I honestly can't remember when I've ever felt this happy before. I mean, I've been happy in recent memory--joyful, even; I'm usually a pretty happy person--but there's something about this happiness that makes it different. The thing about it is that it isn't based on anything. There isn't some circumstance that has made me happy. It's precisely that lack of specific, external circumstance that's important. The circumstances are just circumstances, and my circumstances now aren't all that fabulous (same busy job in same middle of nowhere, same long distance relationship, same distance from friends and family, same--well, technically different, but essentially same--stack of grading to do), but that just doesn't matter. And honestly I no longer feel that my situation is so bad.

And as a result, I'm suddenly much friendlier. I'm not bitching all the time. I'm talking to my colleagues, and honestly I like a bunch of my colleagues. A lot. And they'll be my colleagues next year, and I can keep being friends with them.

But that's not the point. It's not that I've found some light in my situation, it's that I've quit fighting against my life.

A Buddhist teacher I knew years ago once gave me an image to understand the idea of letting go--and I'm sure this isn't original, but it's apt: Imagine that you're hanging off a cliff, clutching a small branch. You're terrified of falling and so you cling to that branch with all your might, struggling to pull yourself back up. This goes on for a long long time, until you're simply too exhausted to hold on anymore--and you let go--and discover that you were only an inch or two off the ground the whole time. Yeah. That's what this feels like.

Of course I've thought about that a lot before, and I think that I understood what it meant. But thinking it and feeling it are different things. I don't think that I ever felt it before--not in a sustained way, not through the ordinariness of showers and meetings and work and dishes. This is new.

Unfortunately, I can't really talk about it without resorting to horrible platitudes and words that I hate--like "breakthrough"--but something good has happened, and all of a sudden my life seems vast and spacious again, and I feel wonderfully free from so much of the anger and fear that I've been carrying around for quite a long time. Maybe the two weeks of emotional wreckage has done me good. I fully expect to get over this delight and return to my usual belligerence within a couple of weeks. But with luck, I'll remember how this has felt, and even when I'm not feeling it, I might know that it's possible.

If nothing else, I'll have this post to remind me.


Hilaire said...

What a lovely, lovely meditation! I am so happy for you. This seeped into my consciousness, too - thank you for it.

medieval woman said...

Heu, this is so wonderful to hear! I hope - and believe - that this is the beginning of great things for you in this job/phase of your life. Keep feeling those awesome things - I'm so happy you've had this (I'll say it) breakthrough!


What Now? said...

What an inspiring post! I'm so glad for your transcendent joy, and I appreciate your sharing with us the reminder that life is here and now.

squadratomagico said...

Yay for you! A soft landing!

Belle said...

A lovely discovery and may joy be yours. Thanks for sharing.