An Age of Discernment



My heart has been heavy these days. Not in regret of our move. The opposite is true. But sadness has been purring it’s way through my cells, waking me up. Sadness in the goodbyes I made in the last month. I know these friendships have not ended. They are instead simply taking new form. But I miss deeply the frequent connections of lightness and joy I shared with beautiful souls each day in my meanderings. And others I know were fleeting, with neighbours, parents from school, with shop and café owners. I held many of these with great fondness, much for their spontaneity of repeated communing together with no agenda, hearts poured over cups of tea, chats outside our front garden, chewing the cud on the way to collect the kids…. Like birdsong, I absolutely adored these gatherings, miniscule in size, perhaps, but in content, sublime. I know new acquaintances will unfold, are unfolding, but this knowledge doesn’t stop my heart creating gingerbread jewels in my mind to follow the M4 and 5 back to London just to hang for a moment with my buddies, close and passing. Especially in the moments when I feel flooded with sadness. They form my mental escape route when all feels too poignant to hold. When I feel too caught within to allow sadness to just be.


But I am learning to sit with it and too to stay when it pierces into the tenderness of another.


This afternoon I reached out to a wonderful soul whom I know loves me deeply and dearly and who knows I’m in an exhausted pickle within. We spoke on the phone, as we do several times a week. I opened my innards and let my frustrations out, my wallow, and she listened intently. I know she feels worry for me. Her heart is so attuned she struggles to witness beings she cares for unsettled. At one point, in the midst of my off-loading, she said, ‘I think you’re not in your right mind’. She meant it in kindness, I know. She was sharing her thoughts. But part of me, within, took it abruptly. I felt insulted. How dare she say that, I thought to myself. Of course I am! How could I have achieved what I have within the last four months if I were not in my right mind??!!! Mutter, mutter, inwardly, I went on.


And then I paused and listened to her. Less her words, more behind them in her being. I was speaking the truth in my heart there and then and, for a moment whilst I sat with the weight of my sadness in all it’s icky uncomfortable-ness and my awkwardness from her words, I saw her and how I have known her all my life. This brave, passionate woman. Strong and determind. Sensitive and honest. One of the kindest, most thoughtful people I know. And I know how much, how securely she holds a lid on things, for her own wellbeing, her own self-management. And I know how much, in my pain and upset, she wanted to put it ‘right’. It dawned on me I was touching possibly too keenly upon where she could not go herself and, for this reason I suspect, could not acknowledge that maybe, in these moments, I am wholly aching and that really, truly is OK.


I am grateful for the shape of my learning. Twenty years ago, ten, even just five, hearing these words would have paved the way in how I dealt with my woe next. The shock of such words would have married with my self-doubt, anger and resentment. She thinks I’m mad, inside I would have cried. I am mad. I am! Historical modelling would have kicked in and my inner-quandary would be high on fire. Oh, I just need to vent, pour out and express my displeasure and unease with people, events, me and then, someone reminds me again, these feelings are too sticky, they do not belong. I do not belong. Quick, I must find my ‘right’ mind again. Quick, quick! Before someone else tells me, infers to me I am in fact mad. I would have been the White Rabbit in an unending search for an image of equilibrium.


And so the story recurred, over and over, until I started to discover those who aren’t fearful of this apparent mess. Those who know how to hold a safe space for the guts of a belly to be revealed. Those brave warriors who know there are no judgments necessary and if the dirge of outpourings pricks into their own, they know the territory well enough not to search for plugs to lessen the flow. And with this kindness, I am learning myself well enough to less get entombed by these centuries old phrases that time and again have abled you and I to keep our inner-worlds locked tight. That have enabled men and women alike to doubt their own minds, their beings. That have enabled the cost of ‘happiness’ to come at such a troubling price. They have served us at the opposite of wellness and negated clearer insight for both giver and receiver. For these well poised phrases indeed disable, far less enable.


I am, in this age, understanding the requirement of integration when disquiet calls. I am understanding more the how to just be, as easy as it may be not for I and you alike. I am understanding the contours of mine own landscape and by this of others with greater gentleness. I am understanding how to unclimb the staircases in my mind and when others say what is not meant for me. And, too, when I unwittingly set my expectations to be met too high.


I am enjoying this carving.


And so, in the hour or so after our call finished, whilst the ripples of the words that prickled me lightly ran still, I held an internal space for both myself and my beloved listener. Where I am. Where I have been. Where she was and is. And gloriously I didn’t swallow up my tears in a bid to reclaim my ‘right’ mind. For, I knew, it was not lost. Nor right or wrong. Yes! Detachment from the potential power of her words, as kindly as they were intended, came with ease. Unjust resentment towards her didn’t rear its head either. Neither the old story of my mad, mad world and my framing of it between myself and others.


So I celebrated with a small merry dance for my own courageous warrior within that is slowly, so slowly, trusting the how in welcoming that which we so often prefer much not to honour.


Hello Sadness, my old friend.


Image: Egon Schiele


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s