Dear Kindreds #6--Follow up to the emotional letter of two weeks ago
Newsflash: life is hard and other stuff
Thanks so much for the loving and supportive messages you shared in response to my Morning Pages two weeks ago. It helped me realize an important thing, and that is that it’s actually silly that I don’t let all subscribers post comments on posts. I decided to do this initially because I’d had so much experience with people choosing to treat me like garbage on the Internet (in free forums where you can often be anonymous? IMAGINE THAT), especially on very vulnerable posts, so I figured, hey, if the person commenting is actually *paying* to be here (and thank you so, so, so much to all who do—I cannot tell you what it means to me) they are not likely gonna become a troll so ugly they’d send Madmartigan running. (Yes, that was a Willow reference. Definitely had to look up how to spell Madmartigan. Definitely didn’t expect that to be the spelling. Shrug.)
The one thing I hadn’t considered though was that all subscribers, even mean troll-y ones, can just send me emails in response to my posts.
I learned this because in response to the aforementioned letter I received some truly lovely responses that were so validating and kind via email (as well as other venues like texts from people close to me), and inside I was like “omg, thank you so much for treating my tender heart so delicately. Also, DAMMIT, I’ve been thinking I was creating safety for myself in not allowing comments this whole time when I actually wasn’t!”
So, no more silly goosin’ over here. I’m going to make comments accessible to all subscribers. Sorry for not doing that earlier.
Anyway, before this thing gets too far off the rails [it did, of course, LOL], I’m going to do another Morning Pages and finish the story from two weeks ago. But first, here are two photos from the Silverwood trip:
Aaaand, with that, here we go into Ye Ol’ Mornin’ Pages:
Morning Pages 8-30-23
Lots going on in the head—I feel very good that I ordered groceries online and then picked them up at Safeway. And I didn’t even have to talk to the person because they still do “no contact” delivery, so they just put my groceries right into the back of the van, and I was one my way. And it was free! Victory!
Sadness still this morning. It looms in the background. I didn’t sleep well. Thought I might nap after getting the groceries, but instead did a Sylva Method training with Mindvalley which was very deep and relaxing, and so that felt nice. I write here at the heels of that, which is probably good.
I feel I was able to describe my thoughts at Silverwood pretty decently in my letter two weeks ago—they are a lot more complex, I think, and I could see them coming off as a bit trite, and not-quite-representative of the reality within me, but the winding paragraph that I re-read did an okay job of conveying at least some of the complexity I was feeling on that day—or at least maybe the nagging confusion—the “why?”-ness—of it all.
That was the thing that stayed with me and haunted me that day—the “why?”-ness.
I kept asking myself: why???—the big cosmic “why?” that happens sometimes after people you love die or suffer—like, seriously, WHY THE FUCK ARE WE HERE DOING ALL OF THIS WHEN IT OFTEN FEELS SO SHITTY?? UNLESS YOU’RE NUMBING, WHICH ISN’T EVEN HEALTHY TO DO????? WHAT IS THE POINT???????
And when I say I was “asking this question,” I mean that I was also expecting an answer. I was asking my ancestors and my guides. This wasn’t some hopeless, rhetorical bemoaning of the sad state of affairs through verbal lamentation—I was expecting an answer.
And I got one.
And it was fucking annoying, yet also somewhat relieving?
The answer came an hour or so later after my Door-dashed meal of Caesar salad and mashed potatoes (current obsession) which I ate outside on the patio in the calm summer air. Oh, wait, no, that’s wrong. I finished the meal in the calm summer air partially, then I brought it inside when a wasp came to share some food with me and I started worrying about other bugs. (Side-note: I learned the saddest thing about worker wasps the other day on Tiktok—that after the new queens they’ve diligently fed and nurtured through the summer have hatched, the worker wasps are chemically “released” from their roles and are never “called home” by the queen’s pheromones again. Thus, they spend their final weeks of life alone, confused, roaming the fields and deserts, homeless, hungry, purposeless (driftless, if you will) and seeking just a bit of sugar for sustenance before dying a lonely, sad death before the onset of winter (AGAIN I ASK, WHYYYYYYYYYY??????????? WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT OF ALL THE SUFFERING ON THIS ROCK????))—and when I heard this I was glad to have let the little friend eat what it wanted instead of shooing it away before I went inside).
Anyway, The Answer came after having finished my meal at the kitchen table in the very-white kitchen of the AirBNB. I’d began resting and digesting on the couch and was still feeling haunted by the emotional depths I’d plumbed earlier, and suddenly I had the distinct impression to listen to the Thomas solo from Lamb of God, which was the solo I’d sung a thousand times and performed twice, and which my brain resisted and wanted to just brush off because it was like “yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember what that says since I sang it so often.”
I pulled it up and pressed play. And bawled through the whole thing—it talks of a lot of sad and somewhat universal themes. Of having been excluded from something really cool that your friends got to do but you somehow weren’t invited or missed (see the resurrected Christ), and of course—because this is Thomas of Doubting Thomas fame—it speaks of doubt, and of wanting to see and know the truth for oneself. And then the annoying answer part came at the end of the capstone song. It’s nothing new or particularly breathtaking (which is probably why part of me feels annoyed by it.) Basically, the song ends saying that although the path is long and windy, and there is heartbreak, at some point in the future (probably after we die?) we will understand why all the bullshit that has happened happened. (The exact quote of the final line is: “Though dark thy way, still sing and praise—sometime, sometime we’ll understand.”)
The skeptic part of me finds this to be cheesy pablum.
But the other part of me—perhaps the higher-self part of me—heard the message, or at least *a* message, and knew that it was the actual answer to my actual question.
And that was fucking annoying. Because I want to know now. But it was also kinda comforting I guess?
Like yes, there is a lot of bullshit down here, and yes the depths pain and suffering go fathoms deep, but also there is still a choice—there is a dyad. There is the shitty, and there is the glorious. And the glorious also goes fathoms deep, or miles and miles upward perhaps—and perhaps both ends of this polarity are infinite, and are somehow all still the same thing—different ends of the same spectrum—and both unbound by time and space. And perhaps this means there is utility (for some damn reason) in choosing to “sing and praise” even though there is also plenty to observe that brings sorrow on that other end. Maybe there is utility from a mental health perspective (research seems to indicate as much), and there is utility from a physiological perspective (just look at gratitude studies). And perhaps there is some unknown cosmic reason—some use somehow in seeing both dark and light and choosing light, in knowing both sorrow and joy and leaning into the joy, in having perceptive ability to know the depths pain plums, but knowing also that the “sorest need” that descending these depths engenders means also the inherent capacity, on the other end of the scale, to “comprehend the nectar” as Emily D. points out.
And maybe someday, when we’re off this strange rock that is part of an actual explosion-in-progress that has somehow carved time and space and matter and anti-matter and dark energy and dark matter and like, planets and stars and shit, out of some unknownable substratum—wherever my mommy is and wherever my sister is, where time and space seem not to exist or constrain—perhaps then and only then we will “get it.” And perhaps that will feel satisfying. And perhaps those two already “get it” and perhaps that is why this is the answer they were giving me—to listen to that song, to hear this message.
And perhaps not. In which case, none of these questions, cosmically, matter anyway.
Thus, and again I cannot tell you how part of my brain is annoyed in saying this, but it is seems to be true: nothing is lost in leaning into the positive, gratitude side of the binary. Not one word or note is wasted in singing and praising, even if all each does is make being in this dimension just one iota more tolerable, even only during the utterance of each.
So, mostly because I have no better alternative, I will do it. I’ll continue to go on my morning walks with my adorable doggy, and point out the squirrels scurrying, and relish in the giant sunflowers beginning to dip into the desiccation of autumn, and I will smell all the dying roses through the streets of my neighborhood, and I will make sure to go outside in the evenings and watch the gorgeous pink sunsets, and I will continue to rejoice every day at work that I get to look out over the waters of the Puget sound and track the limitless cloud-formations above the water, and I will continue to write words in orders that I find beautiful right here in this Substack, knowing that maybe, somewhere, my efforts to reach for beauty and joy and “praise” will help me feel more okay than I did yesterday, and perhaps even might help someone else out there do the same.
And that’s it. Nothing terribly profound. In fact, kinda hackneyed, perhaps, when it comes to objective originality of thought (I mean, seriously? The question of suffering? Yeah, humanity has visited this subject a time and again, heh.) But it all feels new and real to me, within my exact context. And there is some profundity in that alone, I suppose.
All right, better send this off to press, aka press a button, and get on with my day. Next letter is an ADHD letter describing my keynote at the Mormon Mental Health Association. I also have one written for my grandpa which is almost done, and a Mama Shellie letter mid-way to completion. My very loose intention is to post on Mondays and Thursdays, and I am doing so today, Thursday, which means I AM A CHAMPION AT LIFE and I deserve a cookie or perhaps ice cream or perhaps strawberries with Nutella (which I always feel very decadent eating for some reason). And I will feel even more like a CHAMPION AT LIFE if/when you have another letter in your inbox come Monday. (But if not, I will still love myself and all of you and the world will continue to spin, and I will do my best not to allow my limbic system to get riled up, and I will recover and carry on and remember that there is also a Thursday coming soon, and that is also my intention, and thus avoid crumbling into a ball of negative intertia. See that? See how good at all of this I am becoming, little by little??? ADHD and I *WILL* be collaborating friends at least 90% of the time by the time I leave this mortal coil, I tell ya. I can feel it. (And *that* observation serves as a tiny preview to major theme of Monday’s ADHD letter, actually! How fitting.))
Okay, enough. Gotta go. Blessings and best wishes my dear Kindreds. Thanks for being there. (And feel free to comment should the desire strike you now that I’ve opened the floodgates. I’d love to hear from anyone that has read this far! *utter silence ensues for weeks*)
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