It’s always the little things that loom so big
I have a panic response. It starts with shortening of my breath. A tightening in my gut region. It moves into my mind and i start to look for exits. I think, where can I go, what can I do, how do I escape? Anxiety rises. I prepare to burn it all to the ground and flee.
I’ve seen this primal fear move through me before. It comes during times of change and uncertainty. This week, as I went about life as usual, I saw a world preparing for the apocalypse. Libraries closing every second computer to encourage a 1.5m distance between people. Supermarkets stripped of fresh fruit, vegetables, staples, frozen food and of course toilet paper. I read story after story on facebook reinforcing a narrative of fear, caution, isolation and compliance to the will of government and media. All this while the sun shines, the birds sing and the plants grow. Inside I know everything is fine. I know I am seeing panic in action. I know that if this latest bogeyman was real, there’d be bodies in the street, chaos, crime, martial law and madness. If it really was the apocalypse, we’d know it.
And yet, some in my human family are spooked, manifesting panic disguised as logical, reasonable caution, faith in dubious authorities and preparedness. And just like the true virus that it is, I caught that fearbug too.
Like i said, I started to think about getting out of dodge, packing life up into my car and focussing on seeking food, water and shelter among established food growing communities. Fortunately, I have enough nervous system integration that there were other signals moving through me slowing me down, bringing my attention back to the present moment and reminding me to breathe, pray, release tension through sound, stretching, shaking and practical action.
Where I got to last night was facing death. I was listening to a podcaster talk about life and death and encouraging his audience to follow the example of Christ and cling not to the world, to love not one’s life so much that one loses it. Hearing his words reminded me of what Faith really means. It means trusting in God|Life|Love
even when especially when life seems to be falling apart around me. It means facing every moment as if I were headed for death and there is nothing I can do about it, choosing to meet my fear – to breathe, feel and look at it. And above all stay: connected to centre, connected to Life, connected to God.
Well, out of all of this, I decided that I would still do a bit of a cull in my home. It’s been some time coming and it does practically prepare me if I do choose to uproot again and follow my God-given intuition into another adventure. Plus, at the base of it, I don’t like having things looming over me that I haven’t addressed but know I should.
This leads me to the real story I want to tell in this post.
I started my cull with a box that has been in my room for about a month. It has a few items from my past in there that I hadn’t yet categorised or integrated into my new home. As I was sorting through, I came to this box. I looked inside and saw some little pieces of wood with coloured shapes and squiggles on them. They were pieces of a board game myself and my ex-girlfriend made together. We were introduced to a game called Carcassone through a couple of her friends and both of us loved it. Being a little poor, we didn’t want to fork out $60 for a new set so what we did was download from the internet, pictures of the game tiles and we drew them onto cardboard and made our own copy for less than $6. Well the innovation didn’t stop there. Preparing to go away on a road trip together, I knew that the flimsy cardboard pieces would get blown around by the wind if we played outside so I suggested we make the game again but this time on wooden blocks. Each block had 6 sides and so represented 6 tiles from the original game. Well it took some time but eventually we finished the set. We were proud owners of a second Carcassonne game, our own unique 3D version. Buoyed by our success we even created a brand new game called Kites, which used the same play dynamic as Carcassonne but had a completely different visual theme, new rules and new scoring options.
I loved what we had created together. These three game sets we had made ourselves. We played a lot and had a great time together. In the end, my enthusiasm for the game was a lot stronger than hers. I was also better at the game. I wanted to play every night after she came home from work. She apparently had other things she thought were more interesting to do 😉 After a while we stopped playing and then some time later we bought a brand new set of the original Carcassone. That reinvigorated things for a bit but I think her heart wasn’t really in it. We’d had fun with it all, but that chapter of our lives together eventually came to a close.
In the same way, our relationship didn’t make it either. We tried hard to make it work but whether it was fate, personality differences or emotional wounds getting the better of us, we broke up.
It was a hard time for me. I really loved this woman. She understood me better than anyone. She made me laugh and she turned me on. We created a game, a garden, a home together. We sang and played and gorged ourselves on pizza. And even though we absolutely had our rough spots, I had faith we’d get through them and something better would emerge. I could see it happening. But it wasn’t enough for her, the stress was a lot for her and she wasn’t great at handling the conflict. It affected her and she decided to end it.
Writing all this now, I feel maudlin and at peace. I miss her, I wish we could have made it. I also think she was right to call it quits. There were some strong incompatibilities that were small but meaningful. She wanted to live in the city, me the country. I liked having a clean and tidy house, she preferred a more messy home. I wanted her to be more adventurous and sexual, she wanted me to be more stable and loving.
3 pairs of mismatched desires. 6 things in total. One single game piece. It was enough to break us apart.
Here’s the thing, I’m an optimist wrapped in a pessimist’s body. I enjoy being free from the hard stuff and I miss the good. I have a complicated, contradictory set of emotions around her. My relationship with her was the deepest, most profound learning experience of my life and it broke my heart.
All of that is to say this: I was in my room yesterday doing my cull and I picked up that box. I opened it up and saw the pieces we had made. I saw one in particular that she had drawn and I could see her hand in its curves and colours. Everything I just told you about a relationship was wrapped up in that one face of that wooden block. I felt it all in one single moment as I held that piece in my hand. It was a lot to deal with. So I didn’t. I left the pieces in the box and left it on my dresser. I knew that I was not ready to part with this game but I also knew I didn’t want to keep it.
No wonder it took me so long to look at some of this stuff. Each object is like a hologram of information, emotion, dreams, hopes, desires, successes, failures and all the rest.
Today I looked at it again and I felt some more of the emotion it brought up. Inspired, I took out 9 pieces, including the one that reminded me of her and I made a picture with them. I took a photo and I wrote this blog post about it. Now as I’m writing this I’ve decided that I’ll drill a hole in that piece along with the others and thread some string through, making a kind of necklace.
The memory of her and I is precious to me. I am not going to let it go completely. It is the story of love, madness, creation, destruction, pain, pleasure and growth. I take that with me and leave the game behind. I move on with a little less clutter and a little more clarity.
Life is bittersweet. Like any game, you win some, you lose some. But like the game she and I made, I take joy in the creation we brought into being. That is enough.
Life is not all roses but the shit sure does help them grow.