Yesterday I had a downright crappy day. I was sick with a cold, but it didn’t stop there, although that surely predisposed me to the rest; I was blue and somewhat panicky and flailing a lot, in my head, and that was really most of the problem, that I was in my head. I didn’t leave the house, physically. And I didn’t leave the ‘house’ in my head, or rather the one chamber with the ever-elusive door that I knew had to be there, in the dark, but couldn’t find. I tried not to fight it, then tried to find a window, then tried to write out some of the reasons why I felt so bad, then finally let out a little gasping wail, into the ether. You know what works, sometimes? Calling for help, and catching lines that friends throw: music, verse, stories, every gesture distilling down to the same message: I’m here, with you.
Today I had a downright delicious day. I had slept far longer than usual, which my sick self sorely needed, and felt remarkably better immediately upon waking. There was a mantle of snow on the ground. I decided it would be a good day for a walk. Good decision, head-stuck-girl.
I walked nearly five miles, on the bike path, then into Look Park, and into the woods, along the river. I meandered through Florence and Leeds, photographing along the way, immersed in sensation. The furrowed and flaking bark of the trees, the shrieking call of a hawk, the familiar, sweet smell of wood smoke, the tired feeling in my calves and feet, it all rushed through me like the river, sweeping and tumbling the pain away.
I need to remember that in those suffocating chambers of mind, water and air can find the door when I cannot. It’s not my job to think myself out. Thinking harder is not going to help. What helps is going outside. What helps is being curious about the world, in love with it, in love with the beings encountered there, the pines and hawks and hemlocks, the Queen Anne’s lace, the stranger’s face as he also walks. Back into the rhythm of motion, the shoulders ease, the hip joints rotate, the muscles function, and gradually there’s an increasing sense of empowerment, relaxation, and breaths are fuller and deeper, rich with oxygen and freedom. The thoughts and emotions that arise do not overwhelm; they walk with me, like quiet and steady friends.
Even now, sitting in my house on a long winter night, as rusty old tin cans full of habitual worries fall on my head, I’m finding ways to dart sideways. I’m not perfect at this. I’ll never be perfect at this. But I’m working it like a muscle. It’s the most basic work I can do, so that I can offer up my gifts to my loves.
May you breathe and wander free, may you never be locked in mental labyrinths, but if you find yourself there, may you find your escape route through any means possible. You belong in the wild. You are the wild.