How To Be Still With Quiet, Little Me (Work-Life Balance Series: Part 3)
I relish sitting for long periods, gazing motionless at whatever happens to be before me as my body, neck, face, and eyeballs rest in the most perfectly unpressured positions. I relish sitting and breathing, having relinquished all hopes and fears and plans, and feeling that faint melancholic serenity that comes with the oceanic song of simultaneous victory and defeat. There is no where to go; what on this Earth could possibly satiate my endless appetite for sensual ecstasy, profound thoughts, beauty, triumph, connection, excitement, and love? Winter, which is now, reminds me to stay inside, to relearn my home. As I huddle snugly around my inner hearth, I feel me. Not the business owner me, not the romantic partner me, not the friend/family member me, not the adventurer me, neither the young nor the old me. Just me, as I am, in this moment, breathing, being alive, with all my life’s wins and losses and future opportunities and loves and hates and griefs and longings all withered and grounded like leaves pressed beneath the snow heaped and half melted along the fence at the end of the yard.
No more thoughts of, “Who am I?” or “What shall I do today?” or “Was I right in my decision?” For what good would such thinking do? All that is is this body sensing sensations, this mind thinking thoughts, this heart feeling feelings, this nervous system reacting to all of it. This is what I have. Nothing more. The house is not mine. Nor is the motorcycle. Nor is my partner. Nor my future. Not even my past, save for the memories, which often dance as if still living. No, what I am and what I have is actually quite little. And yet, it is enough. No, more than enough. In this quiet solitude of me I find I need nothing more. In my perfect little home of body-mind-heart I grasp a sense of spirit, and the sum of me in this unfiltered state feels like something I might call my higher self. But I know in fact that it is not higher. I am just me. And that is enough.
Ironically, my partner, seeing me write this, now asks me if I am “ok.” I reply, “I’m better than ok.” So my brain kicks in, “Why does my physical expression appear to her as possibly ‘bad’?” The answer is immediate- We are taught by our culture that a slow, neutral, unexcited pace, a parasympathetically active nervous system, and a deep degree of contentment are BAD. In our Hollywood-centric society, if one is not supercharged, one is not truly living. In our worship of market growth, we despise stillness. Paranoid of being invaded by neighbor and foreigner alike, we train to be vigilant, defensive, and primed for preemptive striking.
But there is a more personal explanation as well. Friends and family often see me as intense, high-energy, active, and hard working. And that is true- I am that way in large part because I am a child of Summer- hustling, bustling, emotionally romping through life, creating, grieving, praising, fighting, lifting, and organizing. What is less often seen (and never appreciated) is the quiet, still one who is, in fact, nobody. This nobody is for myself alone to appreciate. This is a gift. I am my own secret treasure, known only to me, independent of any person’s evaluation. I am not known to myself as the person who did this, who likes that, who is here or there, or the person who… anything. No, I am just me. Quiet, little me sitting on the edge of the wide world, comfortable in presence.
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