I was in a sort of emotional cocoon for around a year and a half following over a decade of losses. I continued to function (teach and attend family events), but rested as much as possible, sleeping as much as I could. Sometime after twelve months of prioritizing rest and allowing the natural course of my grief, I began to realize I had really NO desire for anything. Then, sometime after that, I’m not sure how long after noticing the lack of desire, I began to pray for the desire to desire. Then sometime after that, I started praying for the desire to actually be interested in something. More recently I’ve noticed I actually feel some interest awakening within myself for many things! Nothing grand, no project or mission to save the world, just a budding feeling of heart. Like, maybe my heart can dare to feel again, feel enough to engage. It’s engagement with the outer world that is so risky. Almost all experiences of feeling include some degree or amount of pain. Even the loveliest feelings cause some suffering in my heart. It’s like I’m always all too conscious of how things pass. And it’s a huge challenge for me to experience anything without some amount of my heart getting entwined with Other. And then Other passes or leaves somehow and part of me goes with it.
One little exercise I’ve done to help myself learn how to savor Other without claiming it unto my Self is to take photos. When I was on retreat in Cohasset (again, at a place that no longer exists!), we were cautioned to not take away the rocks from the shore because that erodes the beach there and effects the local eco-system. So I honored their request. Instead, I took photos. Tons of photos of rocks. I love rocks. I love looking at them. I love how they sound knocking against each other as the waves push them around. I love all their different sizes, shapes, and colors. I love how hand-sized rocks feel in my hand, heavy, but smooth and well-fitted.
I didn’t just photograph the rocks though. I REALLY looked at them as I photographed them. I looked intently at them. I looked at them where they were as they were. I thought about them. I even felt respect for them! I knew they served some purpose right there where they were. I felt what a privilege it was to be there with them. As soon as I realized I shouldn’t take them home with me as a souvenir, as soon as I realized I shouldn’t claim them as some thing to own, I realized and savored their presence there. I don’t know how to explain it. I wasn’t worshipping them by any means. I wasn’t anthropomorphizing them. I was just realizing that I didn’t need to acquire something to fully appreciate it. It was a liberating experience. It was also very fulfilling. It was somewhat on par with what I do with music. When I intimately acquaint myself with music, I don’t even think of owning it; I engage with it expecting myself to be changed.
Wow! Isn’t that lovely?! How did that happen? I think it’s the nature of music. But surely, it must also be a perspective gifted to me by my piano teachers, and probably before that my mother. My mother treasured listening to classical music. I grew up with a respect and expectancy for music – respect for its wonder — beauty passing in time, and expectancy for me to be and become she who can hear… I don’t know how else to say it.
I didn’t mean to write all this when I started this post. I thought I would just list the things for which I am recently finding some interest. Here it is:
- podcasts, especially about writing or about literature
- tasting new (to me) flavors, especially in teas and other beverages
- lipsticks (lol – I told you, nothing grand!)
- listening (still mostly classical music, but also jazz, & exploring whatever)
- thinking about where I could want to travel
- blogging a project
- studying French language
Now that I’m listing, I guess there aren’t that many things! But the feeling of having desire, having awakening interest in life, feels huge. Feeling desire for things that I could do in the future is a quantum leap from not feeling anything or feeling only that I want to sleep.
I think I can attribute the change within me to a couple of things:
- Having allowed myself to rest
- Having prayed for an awakening of interest
- Having family – just their existence helps me want to be here
- New babies being born into my family; my how I love seeing my nieces and nephews get married (find love) and have babies (create out of love); I love the flourishing and over-flow of love!
- My husband still wanting and needing me to function
- My students
- Maybe others praying for me?
There is so much more to say regarding all this, but this is all I want to say for now.
- I’m grateful for rest.
- And I’m grateful for interest in living.
- And I’m grateful for family.