The day after the election, I decided what I needed was to go for a short hard run. I had spent the day in a fugue, after having unsettling dreams throughout the night, and spent my lunch sobbing in my office while watching the concession speech. I was, and am, terrified, devastated, and in a state of shock. So I decided to go for a run to get out of my mind and into my body, the only way I knew how. Since daylight savings occurred this weekend, I found myself adorning my body with blinky lights and neon clothing and dashing down the street in the night, feeling everything and also nothing at all. I was at that place between passion and apathy that feels a lot like going insane. And then I tripped over a small pothole, gloriously, obnoxiously, dramatically. I found myself sitting in my apartment soon after, my cat pacing around me meowing with hunger and anxiety, covered in sweat and blood and pain. It was as if my body sensed a state of disconnection from my mental state, and wanted to find some sort of concordance with my mind. I was now, quite frankly, engulfed in every sort of pain imaginable: emotional, physical, spiritual.
No, that’s not the usual shape of my knee cap.
I not only messed up my knee, but apparently strained my adductor muscle, rendering everything painful and difficult, from sitting down, to sleeping on my side, to bending over, to walking. I obviously can’t run right now, or do yoga. I’m doing everything I can just to get through basic tasks. I am feeling frustrated with this constant, radiating, nauseating pain. And I find myself now at the start of a three day weekend due to Veteran’s Day, left with nothing but my own internal turmoil and with little ability to distract myself from it.
So I decided to do a juice fast this weekend. I decided to get back into my meditation practice. Join the sangha I’ve been meaning to join for months for their weekly sitting group. Read a book. Take a epsom salt bath. Do some aromatherapy. Allow myself to cry when I need to. Write my feelings. Engage in gentle yoga when my body is able. Take care of myself. Share the inspirational things I am seeing online as the woke community reacts. Reminding others I am an ally. In a strange way, this devastating week has reconnected me with myself, helped me to feel and to grow, to reignite my passion for humanity and acknowledge the role I play in its collective progress.
That is the thing about darkness. It orients us back to the light.
Those who know me well know that I am terrified of death. It is the only thing I deeply fear. I don’t fear public speaking, or spiders, or snakes, or commitment. Just death. And the thing I fear about it isn’t so much that we can’t ever know with total certainty what happens when we die. It’s that all the theories that have ever been proposed to me – hell, heaven, absolutely nothing at all – involve a world without contrast. Even reincarnation, if I am unable to retain my memories, involves a world without inter-life contrast. And I actually want to live in a world with darkness. A world where I have no choice but to fully and viscerally witness people and social systems acting in downright evil ways. I want to remember the injustices, always. I am not a supporter of the darkness in this world. But if there was no darkness, there would be no progress, nothing that we need to grow from, nothing to be passionate about changing. There would be nothing to connect us, no way for us to find our tribe, no issues to be concerned about, nothing to give us meaning. But I can’t do anything about the fact that I’m going to die and enter into some sort of homogeneous oblivion. All I can do is appreciate life right now, and do something with it. All I can do is accept, radically, with open and willing hands and heart, all of my pain, my darkness, my anger, and my fear, and also my hope, my love, my beauty, and my passion.
And so, for today, that is exactly what I am going to do.
“I said: what about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road.
I said: What about my passion?
He said: Keep it burning.
I said: What about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”