I also wonder whether the more upbeat and positive, shiny happy bloggers are REALLY telling it like it is for them and whether this might leave the rest of us feeling slightly inadequate and turning to the self-help books when the reality is that for most of us, most of the time there is a half-full, half-empty cup of reality to be sipped?
We’re all inadequate, flawed human beings, stumbling into grace. I frequently feel hopeless, bleak, powerfully angry and full of hatred. I’m guessing these feelings aren’t unknown to you, either.
Everyone in the world has gone to bed one night or another with fear or pain or loss or disappointment and yet each of us has awakened, arisen, somehow made our ablutions, seen other human beings and: “Morning, how are you?” “Fine thanks, and you?” It’s amazing. Wherever that abides in the human being, there is the nobleness of the human spirit.
Making it better
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it, to try everything to fix our periods of pain? And when someone is going through what we call in Britain, with typical understatement, “a bad patch”, we want to make it better for them. But it isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.
I had a conversation with a life coach I was working with a while back (not you, Sally Lever!) which fractured the relationship for me. I don’t recall the context, but I mentioned the difficulty I’ve had all my life not knowing what emotion I’m feeling until later. I expressed the desire to feel my emotions deeply and immediately. “Careful”, she said, “if you focus like that you may invite negative emotions into your life. You need to focus specifically on your desire to be happy. You do want to be happy, don’t you?”
No, I do not want to be “happy”. I want to feel turbulent gusts of pure joy that lift me off my feet. And how do you recognise great joy without opening also to the capacity for great pain?
Crouching in the darkness
I believe those periods of darkness are vitally important. It’s in the shadow that our greatest growth can occur. We need to stay with it.
He talks about this far more eloquently than I can:
I want you to meet me in the Underworld and have a genuine and honest, heartfelt, unaffected, candid, interaction in which you tell me what you know to be true of you in that very moment rather than the pretty sentiments of someone writing in reflection from lessons they’ve already learned and moved on from … All you see is darkness. But darkness is not the defining characteristic of the Underworld; in fact, once one’s eyes adjust to the apparent darkness, the Underworld reveals itself to be iridescent.
But don’t wallow
There’s a trap lying in wait for us in the darkness. We can get hooked on the drama. The iridescence of the Underworld is not something to cling to. Once it has taught us what we need to know, it hands us back up to the light.
And remember to laugh
It’s incredible how laughter can bubble up like living water through the cracks in great anger and sorrow. You just have to make room for it.
And in fact I did laugh out loud just now as I realised what the title of this blog post reminds me of. Remember 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel?
Slow down, you’re movin’ too fast
You gotta make the morning last
Just kickin’ down the cobblestones
Lookin’ for fun and
Sometimes we all feel groovy, other times pissy, don’t you think? And ultimately, that’s OK.