sTORIES FROM THE
CENTER OF THE STORM
discovering joy in every molecule
Sometimes I have to step away from something to see it new.
I am out walking, and then, rather quickly, I am out crawling, because of all the sheep fall off of em' steep mountains here in the Blue Ridge. Mid-crawl, I hear a voice as clearly as I hear my own panting and swearing, and it says “Get off facebook”
Which is not even relevant to mountains. And I am not even in the habit of hearing voices. Especially concerning social media. So I just kind of ignore it, which, I hear is a fairly common initial approach upon the Hearing of Voices. I proceed to think about the farmer boys who had just driven by and paused to applaud my little dance break I'd been having. I liked the jib of the story and all the selfies I'd taken to accompany it. And then it came again. Clearer this time. Get. OFF. Facebook.
So, this is actually happening. I feel completely not into it. I wonder if I am having a mystical experience. Might be God. Might be a farmer. I’m not sure which is which, but I'm curious. I feel a buzz. Most of it is discomfort, but there's something else beneath it, so I decide to do it.
Then it's time for the fun part. The crank up the music and run all the way down the mountain, fast, faster and faster than my legs even know how to go, then faster than that.
good bye world
I wake, roll over, grab my device and Very Nearly Forget.
Then I remember. Audible sigh, set The Thing down. I feel nervous and lonely in advance.
After coffee, I decide that I’m also excited, like I’m embarking on some unknown expedition into uncharted waters. Bring on the sharks!
In a huzzah of inspiration, I delete the apps off all devices. I’m a witch on a rampage. I shall clean every room! I shall sup on only sunshine and clear thinking!
Later that night I lie in bed a long while thinking about what all my friends are up to, or down to. A lightning bug flies into the quiet dark of my room. I am startled, then almost immediately, delighted. Just as quickly, it flies back out.
A beat later, and two more fly in and blink into an intricate dance of spirals and infinity loops. Then they're gone too.
I notice that I don't miss them when they're gone, so much, as I miss the way they positively captivate my attention. I like the feeling of being in the presence of Something Happening. Soon they're back, over and over with the loops and quietly pyrotechnic dancing, on and on until I fall asleep, mid-dance, and actively grateful for the tiny company.
Only day TWO? What the eff? Did time just stop?
I’m out of the loop. Requests are piling up and the overflow is coming thru in texts and Gmail. Have I seen this? Why haven't I responded? Am I okay?
Am I? I'm quieter than I've been in a while and holy shit, this is day two.
Later, I get good and bored and find myself lost on a long adventure up the mountain to harvest ramps, an onion garlic thing that grows high up on mountains and only for a week. The experience is so special feeling, rare and I'm pretty sure I saw real faeries, that I have this overwhelming, nearly painful urge to share it. Is it that my own enjoyment of it weren’t enough? I'm suspicious of this urge like a film noir detective.
I also notice the urge for me to want the world to see me doing “cool” things. Ouch. That smarts. I begin to see the lens of social media on all my personal experiences: how can I frame this? Share it? What will the world think of this?
I spend a long evening on the roof, trying to be noticing the world, but mostly missing being noticed. I feel like I’m lowering myself into a cave. But when I check back in about returning to Facebook, I get a strong strong no. That night I fall asleep sans firefly dancing.
I spend the day finishing a book.
One more time: I FINISH the book.
I finish, uninterrupted, and with big beautiful focus and grace, the fucking book.
For the WIN! I want to celebrate online. It’s a sweet, real urge. I don’t, but send out psychic messages instead. I imagine the fireflies carrying them far and wide, like little blinky messenger pigeons.
The urge to celebrate is pressurizing so I reach into new/old crevices for ways to celebrate that have meaning for me beyond broadcasting the news and receiving people's responses about what I've done. Fascinating. I end up picking flowers from a few different streams and make myself a bouquet to set beside my bed. It is nearly unbearably fragrant in the night.
Breakthrough! Up to this point, I’d been reading blogs and books about using social media to make mucho dollars. All the while grimacing. I had unwittingly begun to drag myself through this process, in an "Eat Your Brocolli, It’s GOOD For You Way". In this pause, there is room to realize I DON’T WANT TO PLAY THAT WAY.
Relief! I realize that my business model is tied up in how I am perceived on social media, which is simultaneously where I play like a firefly, crazy in love with the wind and the night and sometimes in love with butts too.
I'm not totally sure how those two want to come together, but I don't want them to be conflicting or sneaky pants. A rocket of desire for clarity and lightness on this sproings out of me.
I know that I don’t want to ever care or get tangled up in what other people feel about my experience, and I surely don’t want my business model on that shaky fault line. It’s too dicey. My jobMission in this life experience is clearly to play fully in being alive. That means exploration, edges, getting it wrong, and finding how to play through to the other side. I can't scheme about how others perceive me and show up absolutely for that gorgeous central conversation flowing at the heart of my life.
I also realize that the least fun experiences on Facebook are when people are all, “look at my shiny life! pay me to have this shininess!” I was doing that too.
Please something cleaner, please funner, please honester. I want the business model of a firefly.
The sheer number of selfies I’m not taking is dangerously low. Also, I feel left out. All my connections were happening in this playground that I need a break from, and so, there is a new quiet that is a little hard to take. Without the constant interruptions and notifications, there are longer and longer spaces of time.
I really have no choice but to paint a new mermaid.
O! Gold! O! pink fat butt! Is there anything funner in the world to paint than fat mer-butts? I wager there is not.
I wake up without the urge to check.
I scan my ceiling to see if there are any fireflies, hungover and needing help getting home.
It isn’t until later in the day that I remember I am on a break, but the feeling of being “on break” is receding. I feel like I’m living a question about my own relationship to the outside world. What I say and why? I’m curious, and not lamenting being off. I’m listening for what lies on the other side of the question. I can't hear it yet or even really feel it but I trust the process of living a question. That's nice to notice. I trust my own ability to truly journey. I fall asleep in a sweet swath of self trust.
It is … um, interesting, that something as “mundane” as the Doing of the Dishes is the thing that really brings the question to the next level. As a part of this break, I’ve been doing a Joy Calendar every evening to scan: where in my life am I giving away my joy? I discover lingering resentment/split energy in household stuff.
I decide to line up with the Doing of a Thing, or not do it a’tall.
So, I’m doing dishes, and the hot, soapy water is this little warm cave for my chilly hands. And there’s this long pile of dirty, disorderly things that want renewal, and a delicious sense of ordering chaos settles in and I feel like the teeny god that I actually am, bringing order, cohesion and beauty, and playing in all of it with waterfall bridges, and bubble epiphanies and deep hot water plunges back into the original drink.
For a moment, I’m in no one’s business, but my own. No part of me leaves the scene to think of reporting this. All of me stays. All of me is here. Someone puts on music. As if on cue, the children begin to join in the cleaning, happily, laughily, and I stay in the pleasure of the moment as long as I can, later I will surely note how my deeply centered presence in my own joyous now, allowed for a vast harmony, but for now, for right, my mind is on break. There is too much joy for thinking.
Holy symphony in the key of life, batman.
I think about starting to write about it, this, it, the break, the unraveling, the pause, quiet, thequietpauselistening.
I’m still a little smitten with that thing that happened last night. The All Clear Hallelujah Right Now thing.
Having access to that level of clear clear joy, no matter what, feels Peppermint Bronners on your Nethers exciting.
I can see that part of the thou Shalt Take a Break from Social Media thing from Farmer God was about this… This calm. This quiet in the head. This no one but me, this no fucks given moment of ease and all hereness.
Sweet jesus have I missed this all hereness. I kind of want to cry when I think about how scattered I have been willing to be with my presence and my precious, life-giving attention.
I’m smack whack up against “technical details” that have deep roots, and I don’t know how to play through ‘em. The stay off Social Media until you’ve lived this question feels nonnegotiaable. But I feel negligent for missing the online play lands that I run on Facebook. Still, I stay quiet. Still, I send out my heart to all my soul dumplin' playmates. I love you! I love you even in the quiet. Even in the vast unprofessionalness of this. I love you still.
The haphazardly acquired habits I was developing toward social media are drifting off. I don’t want to be constantly checking other people’s lives, I realize. I want to check my own. I want to have enough of my own attention to be properly fascinated by my own experience.
Longer swathes of time are unfolding. I feel like I have more time than ever before. I plan ANOTHER 40 mile bike ride like it’s nothing. I am time rich. wow. Fistfulls of time. Ballin.
I wonder if maybe it’s not that I have more time, but that I have more presence in the time I have, and so, there is more delight, more satedness, more all there-ness. More.
I think of the book A Wrinkle in Time and imagine time folding and stretching around me like a magnificent silk scarf, pale yellow, and impossibly soft.
So much possibility unfurls that I’m losing sureness on stuff that felt hard and unmovable; in the yellow silky lack of sureness that it can't move, it begins to.
I think about returning to facebook and get a little whiny, like “do I HAVE to?”
Wow!? Where did that come from? I used to DELIGHT in playing on FB. Romping and playing and posting and alchemizing and exploring and being uplifted and uplifting and starting new games. Truly fun for me. So what's this?
Then I realize that, running right alongside all that joy, was a kind of guilt, like “I SHOULD be living my real life,” or, “I’m using all my focused time to facebook and that Wonderful Project is going to be shoved off to another day, undone.” So, the playing I was doing on facebook wasn’t pure. Aha.
MY FIRST CLUE! I need to clean up my social media playground, or, my Urge to Say and Share Playground. Ahhh… I know how to clean up a playground. I’m a playground cleanin’ pro, yo.
It's still not time to leave cave, but it's not all dark anymore either. Now that I'm thinking about my social media outlets, or the Urge to Speak Of The Experience of Being Alive, as a playground, the pathways are beginning to blink in like fireflies on a moonless summer night.
I can clear up the tangle. Sure, there's a part of me that wants to be the Bestist, the Winningest, but I'm not interested in that conversation. I'm really interested in developing a clear, ringing relationship with my own voice, and the harmonies that come in when the music I emit is clear.