November 10, 2015

Dealing with Forced Expansion.


Some days are easy.

For instance, when my instinct is on point. When I can communicate with people in a way that truly connects us. When my work gets done, and I enjoy doing it. When good news finds its way to me.

Some days are not like that.

I live in a beautiful city, surrounded by mountains. My choice to come here was just that—a choice. I’ve made similar choices before. In one place I lived and worked, I made exactly one friend in the course of eight months.

No matter where I am, the following thought process seems to happen: Of all the infinite corners of the world, I think to myself, this is where I am. And the inevitable next part of that thought—Is this where I’m supposed to be?

On lovely, smooth-moving days, I can think of my friends, my family, my world, with unbelievable gratitude. It’s insane just to be alive, there’s magic in this thing, I can feel it and run my hands through it like water. I feel awake and able and deeply rooted in some sense of peace, of movement. It feels like…everything is truly okay.

And then there are days when something just goes wrong. It’s like life gets sick, turns over. I can’t perceive things clearly. My perspective is off-balance. I become scared. I think about things that don’t normally occur to me on good days, like the shortness of life. I fear how old my grandpa is getting instead of meditating on our beautiful memories and his wonderful soul. I think of how much easier it would be if I had done this instead of that, how much happier I could be, if only I had not made such and such a choice… How much happier I certainly would be.

I forget that my imagination is creating these worlds, these alternate lives in which I could somehow avoid everything that scares me and makes me sad. In these moments, I feel burdened by the choices I have made—the very choices I have wildly embraced with loving intention in my search for meaning, for a deeper connection with life—instead of liberated.

And suddenly, everything is cast into doubt, into chaos, and nothing is safe.

As Søren Kierkegaard so kindly pointed out, “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

My friend and I have a mantra called “forced expansion.” When faced with difficulties, we can feel something gripping us, stretching us out. It hurts. For me, it feels as though the hands of my soul are responding by pressing against the very boundaries of my spirit, trying to fill up the gap the world is making.

To feel overwhelmed, to be given too much, to be stretched too far. It is life, forcing me to make space inside myself for my emotions, to give them room to fit.

When a loved one passes; when I am far away from home; when loneliness strikes; my body aches to make space, my self reaches out to feel, embrace. The part of me that closes my eyes as the wind touches my face is there to guide me through the turbulence, to carve a path through the darkness, to make the darkness a part of the whole, somehow.

I know that I can do it, make it through to the other side, over and over again, until next time. Because I want to, even though it hurts. I want to be brave enough to look for the pockets of beauty.

To make a choice is to take a risk. Brave is something that I want to be.


Relephant Favorite:

The Places that Scare You.


Author: Danielle M. Ferrara

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Jem Yoshioka


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