Mike told me he was going to put up signs around the neighborhood that said, “Missing: My Serenity.”
Like the lost pet signs that occasionally appear on telephone poles and trees.
I loved that idea so much I wanted to take it away for a long weekend in New England.
So I wrote my own sign. Here it is:
Missing: My Serenity
Soft and sleek, easy to miss if you’re looking right at her. One eye, three legs, big paws, loves people. Answers to “Easy” or “Gentle.” Can be lured out of hiding places with a dish of full fat coconut milk or some lobster with lemon butter sauce. Skittish around loud voices, stompy people, leafblowers, and power saws. Drawn to running water, big pillows, and the sounds of silence. Knows only one command: Lie down.
Lie down. Yes. We’ll get back to that.
This week I went to the Mac store to get a little computer check up. There’s more work to be done, but for starters, I got a new battery, something I’ve needed for over a year.
The technician helping me showed me that my old battery was so done it was actually swollen, that if not removed, it would keep swelling until it burst at the seams and leaked toxic chemicals.
Talk about a metaphor bonking my own heart-swollen self on the head. Me who feels so overfull of sad and struggle from the last year that I’m not sure if I should be in quarantine or hibernation, or some combo thereof.
The tech also educated me on proper care of the new battery:
- plug it in and let it charge all the way the first time,
- let it run down as far as I could each time before recharging it, and
- when recharging it, let it get all the way juiced rather than just a little charge here and there, which decreases battery life.
I know that like my Mac, I have needed a new battery for over a year now. But I wonder how the charging part applies to me. Should I let my battery run almost all the way down before recharging it? I certainly know how to use myself up to the last drop, and I’ve doubted the wisdom of it—feeling like I’ve waited too long.
The part about juicing my battery all the way up before unplugging again certainly feels applicable. Little bursts are no substitute for a full regroup, and can actually affect my battery life long-term. I know it’s hard for me to fully relax in little increments.
Of course little breaks have value, but differ from full recharge. I do occasionally need to rest and close my lid so as not to overheat, but my battery is a different animal. And because I’m the one making up the owner’s manual as I go, I’m still learning what proper care for me means.
So I’m going to keep playing with the metaphor and monitoring my battery situation.
In the meantime, I know proper care for me = change. That is, me making some changes.
I know there’s a different way of being in the world. A pace that’s not manic. A way to go to bed at night not filled with dread. There’s a way to wake up in the morning and want to keep my eyes open. To be able to. There’s a way to be kind. There’s a way to use those open eyes to be farseeing.
Of late, my eyes and the rest of me have become fatigued. I don’t want to look at infinite rows of plastic stuff in the grocery store. I don’t want to scan grumpy faces scanning smartphones on the bus. I don’t want to walk down the sidewalk and smile at one more person unwilling or unable to smile back.
I feel like I could sit for a few months on a porch in a house in the mountains and just watch them stand there. Learn something about how to be tall and majestic.
Or make a butt-shaped groove, my butt-shaped groove, in some Oregon coast sand, fixing my eyes on whitecaps and clouds. Learn something about groove and flow and float.
Stare at something beautiful until I can see through it back to myself.
In lieu of a mountain or ocean view, or perhaps as a different way of getting one, I think it’s time to look at my inner landscape. What I see clearly is this:
My word count is low. My well is low. My will is low. It’s no wonder I feel better when I’m on the floor, on my back.
Lie down. There it is. I know that command. Aaand we’re back.
The funny thing is that getting down is the best way I know so far to get up. It is definitely in the owner’s manual.
I’m tired of experiencing this ongoing low-level depression and anxiety. Tired of the steady stream of loss and struggle and challenge. Tired of feeling powerless in the face of More Bad News. Tired of wishing I could just relax, cheer up, stop taking myself and everything else so seriously.
But it’s not that easy. Or maybe it is that easy. I don’t know. There’s so much I don’t know. So much.
So what do I know? What’s left? What’s left is sunrise and moonshine and soft words and arms around me, and starting fresh and gentle apologies and thoughtful notes and willing friends, and new ideas that pop up with green confidence in the driest of deserts.
What’s left is anti-anxiety herbs that I’ve been taking for a week now and which have alleviated most of the panic in my chest, calmed my overactive heart-rate. What’s left is that even when I feel like crap, if I spend time spinning up some word webs, I start to feel human again. Oh, there I am.
What’s left is lying on the floor, on my back, feeling my bones and skin and muscles relax and settle onto the earth, cooperate with gravity no matter how hard I fight.
I do know how to get down.
Maybe I am like my computer, in that I have to drop to practically 0% charge to remember to get down low on the ground, where the recharge can happen. I have to get down, in order to get up.
Still, since I’m not a computer, my battery works differently. Maybe I get closer to zero faster than I think. So maybe I need more frequent refreshment. To get down a number of times a day to get up. Not just once.
Which brings us to your FHP activity for the week, should you choose to accept it: get down.
Maybe just once for five minutes. Maybe every day, twice a day.
After all, it is your battery, so take a look at what it needs to work. Not a run around searching kind of look. Instead, try the kind where your head and back and butt and legs sink into the ground. Where you give your weary eyes a rest and go for the inner view.
There’s a different way to be in the world. Time for serenity to come home. Time to get down.