I know you’re probably thinking: well hello to you too stranger.
Yes, it’s been a while. After four years of solo-parenting, three years of blogging and freelance writing, and an entire adulthood of working full-time—a girl was spent. Before going on my impromptu hiatus, I managed to squeeze out one more article for publication. And after that, everything came to a screeching halt. Not another blog post was written, nor was a single article topic thought of. The redesign of my website suddenly fell apart (at no fault of my own). And even my ever present voice of inspiration stopped speaking to me. Depletion had not only caught up to me. It had me in a choke hold with no signs of letting up. And unlike years past, I didn’t resist or try to fight my way through. Instead, I simply surrendered. I allowed everything to fall wherever and however it did, while I retreated.
For about a month, I moved through life feeling not quite like myself. And I didn’t know why. Without a doubt, I was exhausted. But I have learned to function with exhaustion as my constant companion, so that wasn’t it. I was not depressed. Nor, was I angry about anything or at anyone, so those too couldn’t be the problem. Admittedly, there were some things taking up residency in my head. But because I am a constant thinker and intermittent worrier, neither of those could be the reason for my sudden emotional paralysis either.
But then it dawned on me. Maybe there was no label to appropriate for what I was feeling. Maybe what I was going through was called being human. And I simply needed to allow myself to feel all of what I was feeling without analysis or judgment. And maybe those feelings are neither good or bad—they just are.
For those of us used to constantly operating on ‘auto-pilot,’ we do so always ‘in spite of.’ We work long hours ‘in spite of’ exhaustion. We tend to our families ‘in spite of’ our own need for care. We try our best to honor our relationships with friends ‘in spite of’ the demands of our own lives. We continue to place one foot in front of the other and walk through life ‘in spite of’ not knowing exactly where we are headed or how we’ll get there.
But there always comes a time when we can no longer continue to power our way through routine and obligation. Our body issues warnings that the benign neglect of our physical and emotional beings will no longer be tolerated. Our spirit begins to quiet. The light that shone so brightly from within us dims. We are not our whole ourselves.
Finally, we realize that silence is required—for as long as need be. It is always when the roar of the outside world threatens to overtake us that comparison, envy, self-doubt, and fear begin their momentous ascent within us. So we need to decidedly mute the noise of the world to once again hear our own voice. As renowned meditation instructor and author Tara Brach recites from the writing of Gunilla Norris on one of my favorite meditations:
Silence brings us back to basics, to our senses, to ourselves. It locates us. Without that return, we can go so far away from our true natures that we end up quite literally beside ourselves. We live blindly and act thoughtlessly, we endanger the delicate balance which sustains our lives, our communities, and our planet.
Life guarantees us a paradoxical journey—feast then famine; joy then sorrow; triumph followed by defeat. There will be times when we stand rooted in the splendor of our lives. And others, when we are nomadic in confusion or despair. It is during those times that we must harness ourselves to silence, and trust that we will return to the essence of our lives.
Photo credit: Leslie Kahan Photography