Yesterday was a hell of a day. It miraculously coincided nicely with my recent contemplations on attention. I was confronted with all the practical obstructions I wasn’t mentioning explicitly in the last couple of days. Contemplation is an act of looking at something attentively, taking distance and holding a thought in mind. When talking about it, I was looking at the attention from a calm and balanced position. Philosophising about its function and importance of being able to consciously build the landscape where attention can wander. So easy to say, rationalise and understand the scarcity and dangers of overstretching. Well, yesterday I was ruthlessly overstretched.
Restless sleep, home renovation, strangers in my safe space, bodily discomforts, uncertainties till the last moment, dependencies on others, change of plans, unexpected events, numerous external inputs, dry hands, broken heating, moody neighbour, excitements, anticipation of problems and other small and big things that wove a thick, heavy blanket covering me from head to toe. I feel all those things i mentioned before: powerlessness, unfulfillment, irritation, frustration and disappointment. After stretching always comes shrinking, that’s the law of nature, I suppose. And when shrinking happens, narrowing takes place, less and less options becomes available sucking me into a feedback loop of misery. This process triggers escapism in pain and pleasure which activate guilt and shame.
Lovely darkness descends upon me.
Since recently i am actively looking for borderline states, places of psychological discomfort, where i can explore the hiding part of me: the shadow. Today when the line was crossed, I ended up in a the place I was craving so badly, but when that happened, my capacity to explore the “it” in productive manner failed. Sensations, habits and destructive behaviour took me over leaving no chance to investigate and get to know it. Previously since I started to engage with discomforts more consciously, when i felt that the wave of darkness approaching, I could manage the distance and ride it.
Not this time.
What do I do now? Is there a way to get out of it? As I am laying on the couch, sensing pressure in my chest, tingling in my limbs and heaviness in my belly I decide to dissolve in the experience. Stay with me. As I failed to play with the shadow, maybe now the actual shadow is showing its face, not a playful inverted sundog but the actual thing is hanging above me. As I write, reflecting upon the experience in the present moment, I feel how curiosity towards my own misery grows. My desire to engage with it comes back. I become a little disappointed though, I’d like to stay with the trouble a little longer.
What is it with this desire to find the edge of comfort? Why do I want to find it so much despite of fear? Why do I want to find so much before I actually find it? Experience that arises in the place of shadow is a place where we can truly feel what we are. We are confronted with our own limits and inability to handle the situation, we lose the grip on reality which paradoxically comes with a feeling of relief and relaxation. The experience of lightness evoked by weird circumstances. Once the fear subsides, the feeling of control comes back, together with responsibilities and needs. That is why playing with the shadow is so valuable, the deeper the dive, the closer you are to true reality. Facing the limitations of self-tracing the contours of what I am really. You can never desire to stay in the shadow, it will absorb you, sucking life and light out of you. But every encounter brings you closer to who you are, a brief moment of clarity shining in the awe of darkness.