You know those periods of your life when things are peaking out in every direction. You would spend your mental energy freaking out about your circumstances—if there were a specific direction for the freak to flow. But it just seems like everything, everywhere, all at once. There is a strange comfort in the fact that there’s not just one acute thing for you to breakdown about. And although appearances may say otherwise, at a deep level you know that it is not a breakdown at all—it is actually a break through.
This knowing is not some magic antidote that makes it all okay. But it is a deep awareness that matches the vastness of the madness. All you can really do is stop–and be with it. You just have to let it all be.
If you are like me, this is about the time when you get really busy; loading dishwashers, washing clothes, cleaning closets, taking road trips and creating all kinds of ideas of busyness that you cannot escape from. The situation is calling for you to face it down and soften in the midst of its fierceness.
But you just can’t, because you’re so busy, being busy.
I always knew that I was an escape artist—frequently leaving my body and zooming out into never-never land where I lived in the magnificent space of what-if and maybe-one-day and if-only in order to temper reality for a while. This I knew…that I was an escape artist; and therefore my life’s work for the last several years has been to learn how to get grounded and stay in my body, no matter what was occurring around me.
I did not know, however, that I was a runner. Although escapism and running are close cousins, they are not the same. Running is characterized by a doing and going rather than an etheric-leaving. You can be in your body and grounded in reality, and still run.
I realized that I was a runner just recently when faced with the devastating news that my beloved cat, earth-guardian and fuzzy angelic, Quincy, was facing eminent death. At 15 years old, Quincy has lived a great life. I believed that he was going to be my 22-year-old sage-pet, however, so in my mind we still had a solid seven years together.
That is, until the vet dealt the heart wrenching blow: Quincy has an acute heart condition and is living out his last few months on earth right now. It took me several days to process the initial shock and pain. After accepting he was going to die, I began releasing him…I sobbed for days.
And then the most interesting thing happened. I can’t even believe it myself…to my surprise I found myself tapping my foot and wringing my hands as if it was not happening fast enough.
So after much weeping, I got up and got really busy.
Quincy needed pee-pads because he was not using the litter box. He needed to eat baked salmon because he was no longer eating his cat food. He needed a bath because he was no longer cleaning himself. Suddenly my office needed to be organized, and I needed to add clothes to my wardrobe, and those thank you cards really needed to get out. Things which I was all too ready not to attend to for months were suddenly uber important. I was in a state of panic and I did not know if I could even leave the house, because he might drop dead while I was out. Like an overzealous architect, I felt an extreme and irrational pull to build a skyscraper when all that was needed in this moment was a simple, one story house.
In the midst of all of this, Quincy looked up at me, his eyes squinty and sparkling. He said, “Just be with me.”
Be with him.
Be present with him and let it all be–just as it was. Let it all take as long as it would take. Allow it, all of it, even the agonizing void-space of not knowing when, and not knowing how. Just be there, with him, and the pain, and the unconditional love, and the desperation of not being able to do anything. Anything, but be with him.
As I sat there fully present, a large shift began to occur. It was as if I could feel the unfolding of every silent beat within my universe. I am familiar with stillness and meditation and energetic shifts—but this was different. An immense amount of power and energy charged through me, because I was still-enough and present-enough to allow it.
I received what I realized to be Quincy’s final gift to me. He taught me what it felt like to not run. He taught me how to stay. Even when it is hard. Even when you are scared. Even when you don’t know what comes next.
Just be with it, and allow it to be.
As I write this, I am having to exercise these atrophied muscles. Not only did Quincy just transition into the non-physical, but in fact, many things in my life are transitioning. I have cleared up so much mental, emotional and physical goo over the last several years, that finally the deepest core stuff can now shine through. And as it expresses—I feel that familiar urge to run.
Run to my medicine cabinet, run to my spiritual counselor, run to the yoga studio, run to the doctor’s office, run to the organic produce section, run to that next thing that is going to fix things and make it all better…just run.
And with this awareness, I force myself to stay with what-is just a little bit longer. Stay with the feeling, the energy, the fear, the intensity, the not-knowing—before I go and do the things that help me to feel better about it all.
Life is a balancing act between being and doing. Doing is not to be damned; there is an important place for it. But, without being, doing is just busyness and empty work. Being is the most important (and challenging) part. And yet, we are all too ready to rush right over being while we spin wildly on the wheel of doing.
Being creates a neutral space for something new and miraculous to emerge. It moves you away from the striving place of might and into the realm of grace, where un-thought of things are possible.
And so today I sat in stillness and acceptance and resisted flight, creating space for the alchemy of transmutation. Then I ran to my computer…to write this blog post.
Dedicated to my beloved Quincy, a great teacher, healer, and companion to me on my journey. I love you and I miss you.