From the Department of … Share.
by Dave Klaus, reprinted with permission
I was on such a roll the last several months, and then the fires came and the air that tasted like fear and destruction and people living in tents in the parking lot of the fairgrounds, it tasted like standing around a raging bonfire and you can’t find a spot where the smoke isn’t blowing right into your face no matter how many times you move.
I wore my playa dustmask, the one I associate with fun and freedom and aliveness, as I walked to work, and I left my bike in the garage unridden for several weeks and my throat started to hurt and I got this little dry cough, and with every breath it reminded me of my lung disease, my emphysema, which I always tell people “yeah but the good news is that I don’t have any symptoms”, except now I did have some, a little.
I think that’s when the anxiety started. I have had severe anxiety several times before, and anyone who is a trial lawyer knows that dark contraction that comes in the week before the case gets sent out to a trial court. The feeling that you don’t really know what you’re doing and this time everyone is going to really understand that and it will be seen, I will be seen, as a fraud, as the one who messed it all up, and it’s all my fault.
When I would tell people about it they would say, “what are you worrying about?” and I would say, it’s free-floating, sometimes its work, and then it’s college applications and financial aid, and then it’s money, and then it’s totally out of the blue like is the roof leaking with all this rain, and then politics, all the ongoing disaster that I can’t stop reading about, but above all I think it was the sky that burned my throat and then another UN report about how long we have left and then another report like that and another.
Above all, it is that. This feeling that it’s all coming to an end, that we as a species are close to being taken to hospice where we will try to be as comfortable as possible and love each other and listen, really listen, to what needs to be said, and it will be beautiful but it will also be terrible and it will be beautiful and terrible.
And then I look at my kids and I say to them, silently for the millionth time, I am so sorry, I am so sorry, I am so sorry that I don’t have any power to do anything about this.
And that is the core of the fear, the inkling that what’s really true is that I have absolutely no control over anything, and that what sometimes feels so right and so true and so perfect, and look at that sunrise, and we are all one, and it’s going to be alright, and we will work it out, and people are waking up, that all that is all really just my fantasy, the thing I tell myself to calm down, like binge watching a show, and it feels so good to click on the next episode, even as it also doesn’t feel good.
Now, the fear has lifted again, and I can sideways grin and say, yeah it’s a roller coaster in here, up and down, and sometimes upside down, and it’s a helluva ride, but all in all, I think I have had enough of coasters today, I am feeling a little queasy, I might go buy a slice of overpriced amusement park pizza to see if I can settle down a bit.
Of course, it’s not all gone either, like this morning when I woke up again before the alarm thinking of the thing I forgot to do that really has to get done today, and I am poised and ready to hit the snooze button so I can snuggle a little longer before I rise in what feels like the middle of the night to drink a cup of coffee and read some poetry and sit still before I walk the dog.
The words come out all in a rush. I didn’t think I could do it, today, writing, and now I feel the fear that comes just before hitting the button that makes these words visible in the world. They need to come out, that’s what I tell myself, and this is part of my process, and maybe this will be helpful to someone else out there, and it never ceases to delight me when someone says that, says thank you for what you write on facebook, I never comment or like anything there, but I always want to see what you post, so thank you.
And the truth is that the fear HAS shifted, it has gone from subject to object, and it’s not me anymore, for the moment, its a part of me, it’s the heavy weather, and I am the sky, and still, still, still, what I really want is to go back to bed and snuggle some more, all day, maybe for two days. Maybe for a week.
It’s time to get going and press that button and hope you all won’t worry about me too much, because really I am ok, on the whole, and I am filled with gratitude and connection and love and snuggling and I am even excited for the holidays this year so we can all slow down and just be together.
I am the sky, and so are you. That’s what I tell myself.