I always try to use the gold dust that is hindsight to inform my writing. Each time I’ve experienced an opportunity to reflect, learn and grow over the past couple of weeks, I’ve made a mental note of it as food for my blog. At the time and in the moment, the opportunity is so pertinent and ever present that I am certain of the fact that as I sit down to write, the ideas will flow and the sentences will acquire meaning naturally. For instance, I’ve reflected on our capacity to question ourselves when we become a small fish in a big pond; our willingness to lose a sense of our beliefs in exchange for acceptance and belonging and our readiness to hastily criticise ourselves rather than show self -compassion and kindness. However, each time I’ve scheduled in some writing time, and endeavoured to use retrospect to write inspirationally, the learning opportunity that once seemed so inspirational lacked lustre and resonance. Ironically, it was this very revelation that led me to the crux of my blog this week.
Last week was an interesting week – it was my first week in Melbourne where I experienced some feelings of sadness, loneliness and the familiar ‘imposter syndrome’ at work – am I really competent enough to be here? The punitive thoughts and associated feelings crept up on me slowly but surely and the most fascinating thing about feelings (contrary to popular belief) is that they don’t always have a root cause. I felt overwhelming feelings of sadness yet I couldn’t necessarily attribute these feelings to anything tangible – they just were. Human nature, naturally, will do anything to escape such emotions – music, food, exercise – whatever returns us to our happy place, and quickly. However, as I sat on the tram home, I realised I had no option but to sit with these feelings – that’s right, I had to sit in the grey – my most feared and hated place of all.
At the end of last week, I was talking to a colleague who had the most wonderful tattoo on her arm of an extract from the poem ‘Go to the limits of your longing’ by Rainer Maria Rilke:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night. These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me. Flare up like a flame and make big shadows I can move in. Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.’
I was so touched by the beauty of these words, yet most beguiled by one particular line: ‘just keep going, no feeling is final’. The reason why writing in retrospect doesn’t always work, yet can be the most powerful therapeutic tool in the moment is because feelings are most felt in that moment. With time, they dissipate and change form, which when you’re feeling melancholy or anxious, is the most beautiful music to one’s ears. Last week, I had one particular day where I felt incredibly low – in that moment, I couldn’t quite grasp what it meant to feel excited or silly again, yet there I was, on Saturday night, dancing away with my girlfriends and for a moment, the words rang true.
Time is the most precious yet not always the most attractive gift we have and sometimes, using food or or shopping or whatever gives you instant gratification isn’t the solution, as sparkly as it may seem. Often, we have to sit in the grey and wait, and then some, with the certainty that although we can’t escape the range of emotions, we know their form, nature and felt experience don’t stay the same for very long. This is a concept that has really helped me this week and I hope it serves as the same source of light for you too 🙂