Facing the Storm



It’s a daily choice.  Sometimes even a choice by the minute.  Misery is an option; I’ve learned the hardest way possible if we are careful about how we wear our misery then some day much of it will be replaced with a quiet grace and, if we work at it, even a triumphant joy in living.  That said, we ALL have our moments.

I don’t really believe in luck.  I believe in good fortune and good circumstances and admittedly some of us are given more than others.  I believe in destiny.  But I also truly believe that we are the ones responsible for crafting our life in the large margins of all that and making it shine like a gem or allowing it to turn dull and lifeless.  We are the ones who make that happen. You say my life is blessed or charmed?  Guess what?  In many ways it is.  But it takes constant work.

4:15am yesterday.  All problems seem unsolvable at that hour.  I had been sliding into a blue state since mid day the day prior and the idea of getting out of bed to greet another melancholy day that early in the morning seemed untenable.  I considered taking half of a sleeping pill to put me back down for 4 hours.  I considered it a lot.  And I considered getting out of bed and going for a walk or writing but I didn’t have the energy for either.  So I lay there wallowing in my own self loathing and misery until by sheer force of will I dragged myself out of bed and pulled on the clothing lying on the floor next to my bed that I’d worn the day prior.

I was exhausted and not wanting to move but the desire to meet whatever storm was brewing inside of me head on and hopefully regain equilibrium propelled me forward.  For me, not knowing how I feel is the worst.  Clarity allows direction and action.  Murky sludgy free floating misery to me is the pits.  It’s what gives me the most trouble emotionally when it comes up.  And yet time and again I have found that a combination of quieting my mind and physical movement usually bring some emotional breakthrough or release.

About a quarter mile in to my walk I became aware of the ground and the sense of life moving up through my feet despite my grisly spirits.  Out loud to everyone and noone in particular I said “you will take care of me, won’t you?” and instantly felt a quickening inside of me.  Feeling a bit more safe, the tears then came and I walked and wept, something which I did a lot of in the early years after my daughter died.  I chose to walk along the water rather than head in to the woods despite the clear signs that a large storm was approaching.  Something about walking straight in to a storm appealed to me.  Perhaps I’ve gotten used to doing just that.  Facing storms has made me more fearless and courageous.  Mostly.  On most days.  But not all.


The ominous silver sky and blustery wind suited my mood and the intensified hues of color due to the light preceding a storm lured me out of my broody trudge just long enough to take note of their electric beauty.

When the sky darkened I opened my arms to stretch my chest and heart, arched my back and leaned way back on my heels taking long, deep breaths.  The simple act of breathing has kept me alive all these years and when melancholy or scared I find it one of the most effective tools at literally opening those spaces inside that fold in on themselves when I am scared, or vulnerable, or struggling in any number of ways.  Opening my eyes I stared at the clouds moving overhead and kept breathing.   And then I heard a voice from deep inside of me that seemed to come from someone, someplace, something other than me.  “You are much bigger than this”.

In that moment I stood utterly connected to the land, to myself, to the flow of life and love.  I felt the embrace of God and the universe with such might I dropped to my knees in gratitude and began to sob.  Such chaotic majesty holding me close and circling around me.  And now speaking to me? Such a gift.  Such a moment of grace.  I was overcome.  And so I laughed.  And then I sobbed and laughed.  And then I just sat in the peace of it for a while.

And then came the rain. I sat there on my knees with my face raised to pelting rain and the sky and must have said thank you 10 times.  The melancholy did not leave but I now felt cradled.  Despite the storm or perhaps even because of the storm, Mother Nature was rocking me and letting me know that I was bigger than the storm.  It would pass if I just rode it out.  It always does.  I trusted I’d feel full and clear again.  There was an ease to the rest of the day that had not been there earlier.  By late afternoon I was smiling and felt warm.

Long ago in a very dark place I felt I had only 3 choices for how I was going to continue in life and if I was going to continue in life.  Those choices were die, exist, live.  I chose to live and it has defined every aspect of what has, 11 years later, become an extraordinary and charmed life that on good days feels full of grace.  I am proud of that.  It isn’t always easy by any measure– life is made up of daily decisions and regular fights with demons.  Yesterday’s extraordinary experience could have been replaced by a medicated sleep.  Rather than waking up drowsy and drugged I chose to pull myself up and out and was handsomely rewarded.  Over time, light and life win in a big way.

“Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable.  And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.  I wrap my fear around me like a blanket”– Indigo Girls