I’ve been busy lately. Not in a bad way – I enjoy (almost) everything I do. However, my schedule has been full. Last week when I met with my therapist, I noticed I did a lot of talking about what I’m doing but not how I’m doing. I noticed that I was a little disconnected from my feelings. The thing I didn’t want to happen, happened without me even realizing it.
During this past winter, I really wanted it to be winter. I wanted it to be dark and cold. I wanted permission to hibernate. When that early spring hit, I was tempted to jump out of my cave and hit the ground running. I knew better – I knew I needed more time in the dark. I knew this because I know myself well – I know that once the sun starts coming up earlier and setting later, I start doing doing doing. I work in the yard, I clean, I sew – and then I remember that I need to eat and before you know it, it’s past my bedtime and I’m wiped out. For some reason I have trouble balancing myself – it’s either all or nothing sometimes.
And so, even though I prefer the sunshine and warm breezes, I wanted winter to linger just a little longer. I wanted more space to curl up with a blanket and rest. In these open spaces of rest and being, I noticed my feelings more. I was able to recognize what was going on inside of me – heart, mind and body. Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for spring. I love spring! However, spring has launched me into my “doing” phase and I’ve not given myself enough space to be.
Yesterday I decided to take the day off. Right away I enjoyed waking up slowly. I didn’t have to rush anything. I had more time to reflect on what I was reading. This reflection led to a blog post that revealed some emotions I haven’t honored lately. In the midst of doing all the things I enjoy, I’ve pushed aside the time I need to think and reflect.
Later on I walked with Denali while listening to Rob Bell’s podcast. In one episode he talked about how we are uncomfortable with boredom, or maybe more accurately labeled, the gaps in our lives. The spaces where we don’t know what to do with ourselves so we pull out the phone to entertain us. Instead of sitting at the table and looking out the window or watching the people walk by, we get out the phone and check Facebook. Instead of appreciating silence or noticing what’s going on around us, we turn to our phones to occupy our time. I realized that on top of filling my time with activities, I have also filled the gaps with my phone. Last night I was on my phone for way too long – why? Maybe I didn’t want to think. Maybe I wanted to escape. All I know is, when I got up this morning and allowed myself to be present in that open space without any distractions, things bubbled up in me that needed a way out.
I find that days when I’m not overburdened by my calendar are often days that I am more emotional. Days when I’m home alone or have no plans – days when I have no visible distractions – those are the days that my feelings refused to be ignored any longer. It’s when I’m in the gaps – the times between this thing and the next thing – that I have the time and the awareness to acknowledge what’s going on inside.
As I was listening to the podcast on my walk, I found myself crying occasionally. There was nothing terribly emotional, nothing to really make me cry. I think it was more the acknowledgement that our bodies need emotional releases. It takes time for all of that to be released – it’s not one conversation or one cry, it’s many over a period of time. Those emotions get stored all over our bodies – one cry may release something in one spot, but another cry releases one somewhere else. It takes time. It takes space. It takes awareness to not fill those gaps with distractions, but to allow myself the freedom to express and release whatever it is I’m feeling.
Yes, it’s spring here in Indiana. The lawn needs mown. The weeds need picked. There is a lot to do both inside and outside, at home and at work. The sun shines and the bird sings. Mostly all of that makes me happy. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not sad too. Busying up my life doesn’t make the sadness go away – it just pushes it aside to deal with at a later date.
I’m grateful for the open space today, for the gaps, so that I could recognize and honor where I am and what I need. It’s in the gaps that we get a glimpse of what stillness can look like. I hope to have some more gaps in my life and when I see them, I hope I can be aware enough to just let it be – empty and still.