Lately I’ve been coming home and feeling like I either can’t move or can’t keep still. Life’s a little off at the moment – like somebody shifted everything in the world a centimetre to the left while I was sleeping – it still looks the same but for some reason I don’t feel the same. And I’m learning to be okay with this. Learning to accept that life is just a messy scribble on a divine page and same days you’re up and some days you’re down and it’s all okay. It’s difficult not to fall into a chasm of self-pity or hate when you feel like you’re not being the you you know you’re capable of being. So here’s what I do when I need to press rewind, travel back in time and be more compassionate to myself, more understanding, more accepting, more loving.
Here’s how I snap outta it.
1. Take a shower. Wash off the day, even if it’s just begun, that’s okay. Play Cranes in the Sky on repeat while you stand under the cascading water and imagine you’re shedding an entire shell of your person. She is gone. This is new, this is raw, this is now you. Take care of your body. Wash your face, sit on the shower floor and shave your legs, pay attention to the actual sensation of skin on skin. When was the last time you were conscious of this? Step out into the mist and greet the world. You are a new self and this is your first time in this realm.
2. Open the windows. Banish the stagnant air and all it contained, let the winds breathe new life into your space again. Sit for a while and watch the clouds roll over. No matter how slow they travel through the air they always end up getting from here to there. And so do you. Whether you run, float or crawl you’re perpetually moving through it all. Listen to the sounds outside, close your eyes, think of how grateful you are, for something, anything, even just the shape of these clouds.
3. Brew a cup of tea. Do it mindfully, take longer than you ever have before. Experience the deep vastness of limbo while the water boils, pour the steaming liquid into your cup like it’s the most sacred task you’ve ever been assigned. Sit in silence and drink. Observe whatever thoughts arrive as though they are bubbles rising to the surface of your tea. Watch how they are born out of nothing and leave just as sporadically. Notice that however chaotic the surface of the liquid may become it always balances back out into calm. Your psyche is a pond and thoughts that ripple soon fade until they’re gone. Smile at Temporality; she is your friend.
4. Read. Immerse yourself in a book you’ve read a million times and look for the nuances hidden in familiar lines. Read without any attachment to an end, forget about characters, about plots, about anything outside of this. Take the sentence out of context, twist it round your index finger, twirl it around trees and swing higher and higher into the limitless skies, propel yourself off each syllable into the subsuming, billowing unknown.
5. Call a friend and get her to tell you about her day. Tell her to start from the start, what was the first thought she had when she woke, what scenes did the shadows paint on her walls, what birds performed songs for her with their morning calls? Follow her footsteps as though they’re imprints in damp sand. Marvel at how two people can exist in exactly the same day yet experience things in such different ways. Let this remind you that time isn’t a pillar that holds up crumbling colosseums but only something we use to distinguish waking life from dreams. Nobody has mapped out where you’re going to be from day one to day z, you’re just thrown off the edge and allowed to exist wherever you fall. There’s nothing absolute about this Wednesday because it’s different for us all.
6. Remember you’re human. Remember that even in a pitch black room or at the bottom of a well you’ve still got skin and bones and organs that you must nurture as well. Feed yourself, do your laundry, brush your teeth, do these things simply because you deserve them and they deserve to be done by you. I promise this is self care even when it feels like a chore and you don’t know how to drag yourself off your bed, across the floor. I promise this is what you need just as much as the air you breathe. I promise you. I promise.