Sunday, December 12, 2010

Singing in the Dark

In the dark times will there be singing? Yes. there will be singing about the dark times.
~Bertolt Brecht

I immediately loved this quote when I saw it couple of days ago. I can't say why exactly, except that it filled my heart with a weirdly good feeling. Like oh, thank god, it's all okay...it's all acceptable... whatever it is... we will not lose our voices, we will honor it, speak of it, sing about it. It inspired me, it helped me get started writing after being away from it for a week, and it gave me the push that I needed--again--to just write what's true...

...even if it's dark.

I have been feeling so grumpy. And dial-tone-y. And over all, most of the time, really crappy. And in the rare moments that I’m not quite so bad, it takes the barest push, the breathless whisper, a look, a tone of voice, a signal light, an inconsiderate driver, someone talking to me when I long to just be still and quiet, to send me tumbling back over again.

I know that irritability is a big component of depression. Still, it's been a long time since I've felt this acutely/chronically irritable. Sometimes I'm so irritable, I can hardly stand myself. I can only imagine what it's like for others to be around me. It's like I just want to be alone, and left alone... And yet. I know I need to be with people right now. Ironic. So I guess the oxymoronic deal here is that I need to be around people, I just don't want to have to interact with them.

Hmm. Conundrum.

I guess now is as good a time as any to just be out there with all the unpleasant feelings I've been experiencing of late. Along with irritability, there has been some big time resentment. Not that I'm happy about it, or particularly proud, but it's there, so why not come clean about it. In fact, resentment is one of those feelings/words--like tenderness a few weeks ago, and more recently chaos (more on that later)--that out of nowhere showed up and camped on my doorstep until I had no choice but to get up and let it in. An unpleasant house guest shadowing me, both the reality of it and the concept.

Me, resentful? You bet. And at first, when I realized just how resentful I could be, all I could feel was the shame of it, like I'm the only one in the entire world guilty of harboring this noxious, odoriferous, offensive weed. This old, hardened, crystallized anger; the low-grade bitterness which, according to Buddhist teacher Pema Chodren, is the greatest obstacle to experiencing joy. But then something happened, and as I watched it, once again I gained some appreciation for how Life sometimes works. Because I realized that tenderness showed itself first; by some accident or fluke or design or miracle, it was there already, had been there for a couple of weeks, a soft pillow to cushion the full onslaught of feeling at seeing how resentful I can sometimes (often?) be, and it neutralized the shame and embarrassment, freeing up space to investigate. And in the investigation, I got it that resentment, for me anyway, is/was simply, merely, a natural, yet unskillful response to having been hurt. It says nothing about my character. It doesn't mean I'm a bad person. It simply means there is unresolved pain. Oh, what a relief. And it went further than that. Because tenderness is tender, because it has the capacity to soften whatever it touches, because it's gentle and benevolent, it stretched itself out, gathered up mother, father, sister, lover, in-laws, old friends, and cast them in a new light, and I saw, as clearly as I saw in that moment that I had not intentionally manifested resentment, they had not intentionally, not once, not ever purposefully caused me pain.

 My teacher Isaac harps on this all the time. And it's one of those things I've gotten as a concept. But the morning that all this was stirring so radically inside me, I got it, I truly saw that this was the case. That not one of the people on the short but passionate list of those that have wronged me had done so casually, purposefully, vengefully. In fact, for the most part, it was innocent, and a result of their own pain, confusion, limitations, wounds. 

With their faces swimming all around me, I understood I was experiencing a powerful moment of grace. Will it change anything? Who knows. Nonetheless, it was a lovely note in the middle of a big patch of darkness.

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