23 February 2014

Swamp (Sunday Meditation #33)

Nothing like the sensation of waking up in the swamp, even if it is your own bed, with the cottony glow of sun-up seeping through the blinds. The small tremor, the raspy breath that pulls a wire through the gut. Dreams muddled with memories condensing like rotgut moonshine in the still of your mind. This is the moment when getting out of bed induces a shiver. The feel of cold mud on the feet, well, that is no way to start the day.

Arise! Get up! This is what the racing heart screams at the quivering mind. The alternative is to lay still, wallowing in low-grade anxiety. The bed shifts and squirms under the back. It is only a matter of time before you sink down. Is this what you want? No, no, of course not. Also, reason and senses tell you it isn't mud, it's mattress.

The floor is only carpet, not muck. You know this. Still, it is hard not to flinch when the feet it the floor. After all, what was that last dream? It was a search. Slogging through unknown, difficult terrain. The jolt when a taloned hand darted out of the bog and grab your ankle. A small miracle there was no scream but the sensation was vivid enough to wake you up enough the draw a deep breath.

Lying there listening to ragged breathing is when the other memories sweep over, rising out of the back brain like a dirty gray tide. There is no choice but to get up and move, to carpe Diem and all that jazz. Brace yourself while swinging your legs over the side of the bed. Remember, its only carpet.

Up. Stretch. Move. Run the shower. Brush the teeth. Don't think, just do.

The day, the day, dive into the day. Remember that saying about it being impossible to be depressed when in engaged in meaningful work? Substitute 'anxious' for 'depressed' and there you have it. The goal for the day. Plenty of chores are there for the doing. It may seem absurd but putting laundry away can be meaningful work, if one wills it to be.

So this is it: up and at 'em alongside someone you love. That is good fortune. The stomach may be full of jitters, soured by the dregs of unsettling dream and bad memories, but love is an anchor. Simple tasks shared like a community of monks. "Do all things with love" even if that means sharing lunch in between hither and yon.

The day will go on, just like you. Daylight and motion gently sand away the rough edges of your aura. Gradually the steps get lighter, the mental ground seems to get drier. The knobbly trees and hanging moss begin to thin out. This is good, no?

Then the moment where the wire breaks and your breath comes back to you. It is a slow passage that snaps into clarity. It is the moment when your hands wrap around a plain white bowl which holds dinner. It is a dinner made with one's own hands, and what the first bite does is bring you out of the swamp. The taste, the aroma, is the relief felt when the feet pull from the mire and you see both boots are still in place. Inhale. Chew. Swallow. This is the universe writ small, and you are back in it.

The secret is this: chop wood, carry water. By these simple acts you will know peace.

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"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...