I have just finished reading May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude from cover to cover. I started it back in October I think, but set it aside. It is like the mature version of Big Magic. No, not that. It’s actually less about showing one the way and much more about sharing the journey. I’m sitting with it today and finding myself in many of those pages. We are not alike, her and I. But I think we share some things that make me feel so much less alone in the world. Share some things that give me an “aha” kind of moment.
We don’t share the awareness of the world in the same way. I trudge through a very suburban version. My excitement is in those times I can step into either of the other two ends of that … either the very urban Seattle or the very expansive air of the mountains. I live in the middle and the discoveries I make there are meaningful, if only to me. I love reading about her garden and of the flowers she ALWAYS has fresh in her home. I love hearing about the birds and about Nelson … her perfect space on the earth. I see Gretchen in those pages too and it makes me smile to think about.
The place where I feel a little less alone is in her rage. I hardly ever talk about this part of me because it’s been a shameful thing. Like a part I can’t contain or control. Obviously I’m not alone in the feeling of it sweeping over me, nor in the aftermath. If someone never experiences that kind of bubbling over it is impossible to talk about it with them. It becomes a miserable exercise in apology and rationalization. Reading May’s description of it gives me hope that there are others out there. Someone I can share that flashpoint of feeling with. Someone who understands that while it is not something I beckon, it is also not something that I attempt desperate measures to keep at bay. It’s as much a part of my fabric as the kind and loving part.
The rage came up recently over some ridiculous letter I got from my insurance company. Kelly does her best to either shut IT down or shut ME down. It’s rarely about anything … and yet it is always about everything. You’d have to feel it to know the truth in that. It is irrational, but not unreasonable. It is animated but never violent. It isn’t a thing directed AT. It is a thing directed furiously OUT. All those who have known me intimately, know this part of me. And I would say that those who do not, don’t really know me at all. May talks about the rage as the burden it is. There is a sense of responsibility in holding this emotion inside. I understand that. It isnt so much about frustration as it is like a tea kettle reaching its boiling point and having to vent. I vent. If you love me, you know this about me and find a way to accept it as a necessary piece. A part of this fragile apparatus with all of its moving parts.
Reading her journal also makes me aware that I am certainly not alone in needing time to just think about how I’ve experienced the happenings of a day. There isn’t always anything to DO about them, but there are always pieces to process. There are always moments that you just want to hold in some far reaching part of your mind and stretch them like putty so they last. And seem more fluid and elastic. Wanting to take time to ponder such things is not so much a luxury as it is a requirement. So much happens in a day and I want desperately sometimes to savor its very essence.
Ive been doing a lot of such soul searching lately. I’ve (very selfishly) wanted time to just sit with my thoughts. Here is how I know : I crave a hot bath. I crave it for the privacy and relaxation to do nothing more than think.Another of my favorite words is fluid. Anything that describes, implies, suggests ‘movement’ is a word I can love. Being in or near water always feels like it helps me toward that goal.
I have moved away from the place of self-judgment and I’ve been moving toward a place of acceptance. Acceptance of exactly the parts that make up who I am. The kindness, the rage and maybe especially the passion. I DO have to make friends with that part. I DON’T have to push it away or deny it. I don’t have to give it titles like ” appropriate passion “. Nothing that rises up in me deserves to be kept in a neat little box. I am learning though, that sometimes, it needs a bit of hand-holding so as not to go off too far on its own.
Deeper truth, is that I have accepted that and I am allowing it to be okay. It joins a lot of other emotions that arrive unexpectedly but I am creating a safe place for those feelings to be. No action required. No bullet points of need. No expectation of it being reciproocated ( of course this is the hardest work ) . Just a safe place to BE what it is. Without angst or shame or need. Just let it BE.
It exists among a lot of other very complex feelings. There has always been a certain rule about feelings. Always a sense that there is some sort of reward for holding them, demonstrating them, sharing them in some sort of way that is “right”. I am not falling into that trap. Whatever makes my heart pound faster, whatever makes me blush, whatever feeds my imagination like it has been starved … well, those things get to be my new and forever “right” things.
And onward I go. No map. No compass. Just myself in all of my love and rage and acceptance. In those rare times of true solitude I am getting to be okay with THAT person.