I feel really angry and forlorn today. The Notorious RBG, a beloved trail blazer for women and Supreme Court Justice for 27 years, has died and our so-called leader is making it all about him. Things have reached such a boiling point, we had an earthquake on Friday night and no one is even talking about it.
In 1978, a Broadway show debuted called “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.” Each time something bad happened, the lead character put out his hand in front of him, palm facing forward, and shouted “Stop the World.” The action behind him paused, the lights went out, he stepped forward under a spotlight and he began to address the audience.
I wish we could do that. I wish we could stop the world but we can’t. We’re here and we’re in it, no matter what. Whether it’s good news or bad news, the wheels of life keep on turning and we have very little say in which direction they move at any given time. Things happen that we don’t see coming and it’s easy to be afraid because as human beings, we are in our least favorite role, fighting a contagious disease called Out of Control-itis.
When it all becomes too much to handle, sometimes I get angry and anxious, my mind races and I can’t settle down. At other times, I drop into a state of ennui, a French word that means “world weary.” It’s about lethargy, a lack of inspiration and disinterest in doing much of anything. It’s an effort to get from the couch to the chair.
When we see that we can run but we can’t hide, there is a middle road, somewhere where we can feel relatively safe and balanced, but how do we find it? How do we stop the world? For me, it starts with becoming aware of my breath. Watching the inhale. Watching the exhale. Making an effort to slow it all down. I scan my body. Where am I holding tension? Where should I focus my breath? Since it’s impossible to have two thoughts at the same time, it stands to reason that if I’m thinking about my breath, I can’t also be thinking about whatever is distasteful or is scaring me.
Placing my attention on my breath instead of my mind doesn’t work right away. It takes time and practice and a healthy dose of self-discipline. It’s a constant exercise in wandering away from myself and bringing myself back and it isn’t a one time thing. It’s a lifestyle, we have to renew it every day, but if we keep at it long enough, slowly but surely, we start to feel better, to feel more like ourselves. Then we can take some comfort in our friends and our pets who are there to soothe us and make us laugh.
The rise and fall of life is determined by forces outside ourselves. Who would consciously choose pain over pleasure, winning over losing, war over peace? We can spin out, that is certainly available, but that feels terrible. So does denial because we are in danger of the rug getting pulled out from under us. So our choices lie not in what’s happening but in how dedicated we are to seeing the truth, accepting it, and keeping a level head. If we stop looking at everything like it’s an emergency, we can find a place of peace in the eye of the hurricane. Hope to see you all there.
What do you do when everything feels like it’s just too much?