When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I want to do is go back to sleep.
Sometimes, often I sleep badly and actually need more rest.
The bed envelopes me like a brioche pita (I wish these existed!) and I know nothing on my to-do list will be as enjoyable as staying snuggled.
It’s common for me to wake up slightly depressed and the blues prefer horizontal living.
When slogging through the murky state between sleep and waking, something—so deep inside me I can’t explain it—wants to not wake up. Maybe it’s the general sense of overwhelm I’m always having to manage. The sheer responsibility of adulting and grief for my youth. A gloss of disillusionment that’s been sticking to me like fake glitter lotion. Or that my soul longs for the Other Side it gets to kiss in dreams, confirming the wisps of suspicion I receive day to day that I am not meant for this world—something greater, more loving and harmonious waits for me and I should be there . . . I miss home and why wait to return? What work must I do here that’s so great it's worth enduring achy joints, a repeatedly overdrafting bank account and the bad, scary, awful shit that goes down on this planet each and every day? Do I have to keep navigating the mostly draining dynamics of relationships? Experience illness? Worry about safety, which on Earth, is most certainly an illusion? Why did I sign up for this?
I talked to a friend the other day and the forecast was cloudy with a chance of ennui.
“I dunno, I just haven’t been feeling too good lately,” they confided, “I don’t feel great about the way things are going, and I don’t think that there’s anything I can really do to change it. Even if I changed certain things, I’m not sure I’d actually feel any different.”
“I’m right there with you,” I admitted.
“Yeah, I mean, I think: Is this it?”
The very same thoughts had been populating my mind and here someone was relaying an almost exact plight. That should’ve comforted me. It didn’t. Shared suffering has never made me feel better or less alone. The dreary outlook we mutually possessed at this moment only served to dip me a notch darker, solidifying my doubts that life would ever be easier or more enjoyable.
To be clear, I don’t feel totally hopeless writing this. Today, simple, beautiful things are rising to the surface. An efficient air conditioner. Alternating turquoise and glass beads dangling on a rainbow maker in the window through which a citrus tree peeks in. A vase The P.I.C. rescued after its lip was chipped in a previous bartending job, packed with small white carnations exploding magenta out their centers, a panda cat stomping on my boob, demanding I set aside the lap desk and massage him, a rumbling pur reverberating through my tum, so healing it knits bone, an air-biscuit making paw intermittently curling around my pointer finger.
Joy splinters through every crevice of my life now and we laugh a lot. That saves me, the laughter. I live a good life. Intentional (most of the time). Creative. Full of potential.
But I have been weathering an unshakable sense of gloom lately. Weariness. Pessimism. Feeling sooooo much. Am I transmuting these uncomfortable emotions for the benefit of the collective? Is it the old trick of healing where you feel like shit, and it’s actually a good thing—cleansing the gunk to make space for the desirable? Will this cosmic funk ever end?
I don’t have a reason to be confused right now. I’ve been mapping the dreams, ticking off to-dos . . . overall, it’s been a productive chapter. So why do I feel confused?
I’ve been seeking for 50% of my adult life. Over a decade ago, a friend handed me a bag of self-development DVDs (yep, physical discs—how quickly the way we consume media has changed!), filled with personal growth leaders that were completely foreign entities to me. I didn’t know who Wayne Dyer was, or Louise Hay, James Ray . . . it was like peering into a portal to an alternate existence—people thought this way, lived genuinely happy lives and taught this stuff, like, made money talking about being positive? I don’t think I was skeptical, more like baffled, sitting on my bed next to a great pyramid of crumpled clothes, downing $2-a-bottle red wine, watching these teachers on the mammoth TV my mom’s friend had given me (there had to be at least two and a half feet of mechanism behind that screen—what a clunker!). Their auras were undeniably exuberant. They had a life force that was more potent than anyone I’d ever been around. No doubt—it was goofy to me, too. Who was the guy with the huge quaff of gray hair? I mean, out there, really. And everything was so bright. I’d been barely crawling through my existence, a mole dwelling beneath the rubble of a once-dreamed-of-life, so this info was eye-opening, overwhelming and such a shock to the system as to be blinding.
Once I’d been exposed to the possibility of living differently—maybe I didn’t have to be mired in suffering, physically ailing and broke—I never looked back. Quit. Went the other way. Said “Fuck you!” to the self-development industry as a whole. Sure. All those things. But deep down, I couldn’t deny that there was something to it all and embracing hope, possibility and my own worth would set me on that path of a unique, authentic life. No less challenges, just of a different ilk.
I venture to guess it’s pretty common that those of us thirsting for deep transformation can be quick to judge ourselves when we’re not seeing only rainbows and stardust. When magic fades and our optimism is tarnished. We go through a slump and positivity becomes either forced or elusive. This is exactly when we gotta envelop the whole of ourselves in a big bear hug because who isn’t a beautiful bundle of contradictions?
At this point, I’m much more at home within my whole self. And that means ALL OF IT. I’m not doggedly positive or fixedly negative. I eat healthy and also not healthy. I have long-held habits that are taking longer to fizzle out than they “should.” But damn, I’m so much more functional, conscious, productive, responsible and present than I was at many points along the path. Progress is nothing like Before & After pics on social media. For me, it’s been slower, more often than not two steps forward, one step back. Lasting in ways, fickle in others. A gently determined mix of repeated self-acknowledgment and cutting myself as much slack as possible. Setting the bar low so accomplishment can actually take hold and gain momentum. Steering my voyeuristic, comparison-obsessed inclinations back to my own lane—settling in there, through the nagging doubts, vigilant distractions and out-of-my-skin discomfort, to glimpse the self-realization that lives down that road. Traversing that journey at my own pace. Shedding the need to do anything in my life like anybody does it.
Resilience is waking up every day and just living life.
We may not always transcend the covers or achieve the highest mindset. Maybe we’re just slugging along in a string of days that are cloudy with a chance of ennui. That’s something.
Just as plants grow at an indiscernible rate, so do we. Ever looked up in surprise at a sizable offshoot of fresh life that seemed to materialize out of nowhere with no idea how long it took?
We are still healing, even and especially, inside the mess, confusion and low-down days. Inching toward spiritual connection despite humanity’s suffering. Groping for insight. Falling short, temporarily rudderless. Rising again, when we didn’t think we had it in us. Maybe the divine intervenes with an unexpected burst of energy, pocket of focused productivity or opportunity dropped in the lap.
Hope prevails. The clouds part. The sun shines again. Until it doesn’t, and we must wrap the whole of ourselves in a big bear hug while the storm rages on.