What’s the point— Just last week, I was asking that about life, and once or twice I could taste the panic rising in my throat.
Thing is, that question has no good answer. It’s an endless kind of loop. Which is to say, not helpful, whatsoever. I know all too well where that question can lead if unnoticed and unmet by kindness. And that’s a place I’d rather not return.
But turning my back on the despair the question carries in its wake? Never worked.
(I notice how hard it is to write the word despair. There’s shame about admitting that it still, sometimes, arises).
Something says: Heidi, aren’t you past that already?
Apparently not. How do I know?
Because, there it was, just days ago, galloping in my ribcage and weighing down my chest like those leaden vests they make you wear while the technician runs out of room to zap the X-ray from somewhere behind the safety glass.
Fear. I can plaster it with affirmations, pretending I’m past it. But hel-lo! There it is. And it doesn’t much matter how good the affirmation is: if I’m using it to cover up fear? It’s bullshit. Plain and simple. And…
Bullshit by any other word? Yah.
Besides, when the “positive stuff”—you know, the affirmations, the grin and bear it everything-is-fine-thank-you-very-much smiles, the platitudes, the parroting of verses, proverbs, quotes or texts no matter how sacred—is used to cover up fear? Useless. The bogeyman may not come out in the noontime sun, but at 3 a.m.? Yeah. Yikes!
So, this is me out of the closet:
Hello, my name is Heidi, and I am a haver of a hard time. Last week it was panic.
Hi Heidi. Welcome.
Of bags and trees
Today was a blue sky, just-a-sweatshirt kind of spring day here in Boston. There I was, walking down Mass Ave from Davis to Central Square (to meet with Dave, owner of Black Lotus Yoga, where I am signing on as Massage Therapist come May —yay!) noticing trees. This isn’t unusual for me. I love trees no matter what, no matter where: in summer, full and round. In fall, decked out in celebration. In winter, breath-takingly naked. In spring, bursting in bloom. Like today.
So there I was, la-de-da-ho-hum ambling along noticing trees and then this one Magnolia in particular with a black plastic bag stuck in its branches was there. That’s right, there:
Of all things to be, a black plastic bag isn’t tops. Especially these days when everyone including moi is calling them names like “bad,” and leaving them to not decompose anytime soon for their much sexier and politically correct cousins, the reusable canvas bags.
Now you could say that black plastic bag did not belong there in that tree, and of course in many ways you’d be right. But, know what?
Saying that does not take away from the reality of it being there. And know what else?
If you’re going to be a plastic bag, and if you’re going to be stuck? Might as well hang out on the branch of a bursting Magnolia. Just sayin! The scent. The view. (Not to mention that chick taking my picture!)
And if you’re going to have panic come a-visiting, as sometimes it is wont to do with some of us? Why not take it by the hand, out into the world. Because seriously! A closet? When was the last time you tried sitting in a closet all day? And under the covers? Might stuffy, I say, mighty stuffy.
So, what’s the point?
Life. Life is the point. My friend Kate tweeted it best:
“Today I remembered why I go out into the world; not because it’s good for me, not spiritual homework, but because this is the point. Life.”
Until next time, see you around! Maybe on Mass Ave. Maybe on the branch of that Magnolia—
So true. Saying it shouldn’t be there doesn’t help a thing, now does it! Great visual reminder of this. Thanks, Heidi!
Marvellous! I’m going to try taking my fear out on outings. Nice trip to the park, maybe, or lunch for two at a little cafe. We can use the time to have a nice leisurely chat – I’ll listen to what it has to say properly for once (I’m often guilty of ignoring it, which just makes it shout louder), and then respond with love and patience.
I so hear you on the fear/despair thing (and the 3am thing). My fear likes to dress up as despair. It’s learnt that that’s the fastest way to incapacitate me. It knows I’m a fighter, see – if I think I can win, I may fight my way through the fear, so it has to convince me there’s nothing available worth fighting for. Bless it, it’s only trying to help.
Every so often a sudden ray of clarity or inspiration finds its way through the despair clouds, and I can see clearly that it’s all totally worth the hard and the scary, and that most of the hard and the scary is self-created.
How to get more of those moments, though? I’ve been wondering about this a lot, lately, what to build into my life to promote those moments of clarity. Sometimes music helps restore my perspective. Nature’s really good for that too, I find. In fact, getting out of the house in general helps me (I have a tendency to hide at home)! Which brings me back to where I was the other day, walking through St Johns Wood, blue sky, wisteria, cherry blossom, remembering the point. Good stuff. Spring kicks arse.
Hi there, found you via Kate on Twitter. Fine post – love the carrier bag in the tree imagery. Just rushing out into my Buenos Aires day but will definitely be back to read more later. Looking forward to it. Meanwhile will follow you on Twitter too.
Hi Heidi. Love the image of being a black plastic bag stuck in a Magnolia tree. Although it’s a black plastic bag, it is now associated with that tree and somehow elevated (no pun intended) by that association.
You guys! I’m so excited by all these comments. So excited! It’s like Christmas 😉
@leah_art Absolutely! Funny how we think that saying something shouldn’t ___ will help us, but it’s the contrary. It keeps it stuck. Because when that something–whatever it is–really shouldn’t be there (and if it has anything to do with me) then I make it not be there and there’s no story about it! The "shouldn’t" doesn’t even come into play! With the should or shouldn’t there usually–always?–seems to be an argument. A stuckness.
@tangokate my dear muse! *kisses* Yes, despair gets my attention, that’s for sure. Maybe that’s all that is even about! Sure takes the heavy leaden-ness out of it. Maybe despair is the kid tugging on the mom’s arm while she is up there busily and idly chatting up the grown ups, and the kid is all like: "Ma! I reeeeeally have to pee! I’m about to pee right here on the floor if you don’t notice me and help me find a bathroom!"
@sallycat! vos eres argentina? mira, es que yo me crié en Chile, imagínate! ay, cuanto lo echo de menos. Sorry if my assumption of spanish is wrong 😉 I must use it any chance I get. At lease one half of my heart space belongs to the southernmost southern hemisphere, That’s all there is to it! so happy you stumbled upon me through kate.
@terryheath your 17-year-old director self from your blog post yesterday was part of my inspiration, so big thank you for that!
Hi Heidi, I have a degree in stuckness with a minor in panic so I can relate. Great quote… "this is the point." So true. Do anything, it’s all fertilizer for the soul.
Here in Scotland black plastic bags caught in trees are called ‘witches knickers (pantees in US, I think)’ – when I heard that, I found I was more likely to smile than complain about litter!
Lovely. I felt a little like a black plastic bag earlier today when I did something someone didn’t like So humbling. I’ll just imagine myself stuck in a tree surrounded by beauty.
Walking. Sunshine, light, air.
Spring. Next week, pink confetti.
When the plastic begins to shred, the birds will tug the bits and weave them into nests.
Just a thought that did "pop":
Pleasant things need no more point than them being pleasant. Only unpleasant things can seem to be missing one….
missing the point = missing the pleasure ?
Oh my. What lovely comment-presents keep appearing here! Such great, um, points 😉 and poetry and musing… And, I am tickled–as my grandma used to say– knowing that black plastic bags in trees are called "witches knickers" in Scotland. That makes me so weirdly happy.
Just one thing @carol e: what are white or transparent plastic bags that are stuck in trees called? Maybe angel knickers? There sure are lots of those around these parts, at least! And yes, I notice these things.
I relate. That awful moment when the Fear, or the Panic or the "It’s all going to go catastrophically wrong because I’m an idiot!" hits *again* after having made progress is just a killer.
@tangokate has advised at times when I have ranted about how I’m not progressing with this: "It’s *all* progress, even when it doesn’t feel like it." She has also talked about it being like a spiral staircase – going round in circles, yes, but each time just that little bit higher. She is very sage 🙂
I’m learning how to be gentle with myself when these nasty 3am moments hit, but it’s hard. Can’t I just be over all this already?! *hug*