Monday, November 15, 2010

Strange Epiphanies

Sometimes I'm riddled with anxiety. I could say it was brought on by this or that, but really it lives in my brain along with joy and calmness and elation and sadness and everything else. And sometimes it just bullies its way to the front of the line and says "I'm in charge here! There is danger lurking and I must warn you all what might happen. And remind you of all the things I thought would happen last time. And prepare you to fight fight fight! or perhaps die die die!" It puffs out its chest and grabs its spyglass (it is quite dramatic) and wrestles the wheel from me (we're on a boat, stay with me here) and proceeds to try to steer with one hand while scanning the horizon wildly for the Very Bad Things that are surely out there. And my little boat that was sailing along is now keeling from side to side, hitting waves the wrong way while my anxiety (who I think must have been hitting some sort of bottle while he was below deck) steers the way.

And the little quiet emotions like contentment, happiness, curiosity, joy, and bravery get sea sick and slink down to their bunks to nap and puke. And I hang on and humor the anxiety and try to remember what I'm supposed to do when he's there behind the wheel. Mindfulness? Now? When there is Danger Ahead?! And where was this ship going anyway? And why?

So that's where I found myself today, green on the deck of my little ship and in a government office with my lawyer uniform on picking up some papers. The type of government office where you think everyone will be mean. And not helpful. And rude.

And yet. And yet. Every single one of them was nice. The receptionist, the people who walked through the waiting room and asked if I'd been helped, the woman behind me talking to a recipient of their services who was so nice to her I about burst into tears, the supervisor who came out to help me. Every single person was nice. As though that was their job. And with each bit of kindness that surrounded me, the boat got a little steadier, anxiety loosened his grip on the wheel and stumbled away (spyglass in hand, just in case, but lowered a bit), the map got a little clearer, the journey a little more sure, and I took hold of the wheel again to steady our course.

Kindness. That is the reason for our journey. Not the sort of kindness where I let my ship crash upon the rocks so someone else doesn't need to move, but the kind where if I need to send a letter to someone who hasn't done what they need to, I can write the letter kindly but firmly. If I need to say to someone, "please get off my ship, I have not given you permission to board" I don't need to kick them in the balls while I say it.

Why kindness made the anxiety dissolve is unknown. But just as I try not to question it when it comes, I don't question when it leaves either. It's part of my journey, but it's not the destination and it is not the captain of this ship.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

beautiful revelation of how we sail off and and separate ourselves, and how the crew can join at the heart and steady the hand on the tiller too.