We are all humans having a human experience.
Working toward a state of being compassionately centred eases times of turbulence, but sometimes, no matter how adamantly we strive, the roller coaster of life sneaks in: too many stressors appear in too short a time, or catastrophe hits and we need to find new ways to get off the ride.
Ultimately, it’s our path and we are in charge of negotiating all the terrain that we come upon.
Sometimes there are so many and frequent outside stressors thrown at us, we are unable to summon our inner “conductor” to say—hey, time to get off…time to get back to my self-care in a big way. Even though we know we need to get off, and yes, that knowledge can ease the pain, it can take some time and building of energy to fully re-engage with our healing.
And that’s okay.
There are times when we do finally and mindfully get off that ride and we look around for help or empathy or compassionate understanding from others—and it simply is not there. At those times, we are called to hold firm to our inner truths and compassionate self-care practices, to ground ourselves, and to walk forward. (Yes comrade, I know that is, many times, easier said than done in the face of tragedy and chaos.)
Here is a peek into metaphor for a stress-laden path throwing itself in front of us:
I’m finding myself riding the roller coaster and I’m not buckled in. I’m in the cart by myself and being banged from edge to edge, and when the peaks come and inertia hits, I fly up and barely keep myself from flying out by gripping with my fingertips and toes. Just when I feel my body is about to be airborne I come slamming down on the seat; the impact to the base of my spine makes my teeth hurt.
The downhill slopes are a bit more rejuvenating but still incite a sense of panic. Every once in a while, I feel like I can throw my arms up and shriek, but the glee and excitement of feeling on the edge soon morphs into a wail of panic and then, without notice, sobs. Sobbing takes so much energy that my grip loosens and I am banged around even more.
Each time I fly by the conductor, I try to signal him to stop the roller coaster and let me off, but he’s always distracted—lighting a cigarette or flirting with someone off in the distance. And sometimes I trance out and miss going by him. How could I do that? How can I be distracted right at the moment I’m passing the only way to get off this demented ride?
I want to just curl up in a ball on the seat or lie down on the floor, but I feel my head will get banged bloody if I do so. I need a break. Every muscle and bone in my body is sore from gripping on so tightly.
I know if I could stop this ride and let someone in the cart with me, two people in fact, I could feel much more secure in this seat. I wouldn’t bounce around as much; I’d feel a bit “tucked in.” But not just anyone. Letting in the person that insists on riding hands free and is oblivious to my vulnerability and how banged up I am would be worse than riding alone.
Where’s the hand break? This can’t be legal. How was this ride approved? Children could be decimated on this ride. (And they sometimes are.)
Finally, after multiple trips around trying to time it just perfectly, well before I pass the conductor, I begin to scream stop at the top of my lungs. I see the bill of the conductor’s cap rise and turn toward my direction. Has he heard me? No, it doesn’t feel like it.
Then I feel it.
The slowing is almost imperceptible, but the first thing I notice is my body relaxing a bit. The speed has been so profound that my cart is going by him again before he is able to fully stop it, but this time he indicates he’s hearing my cries of stop. Holding one finger up tells me he’s going to help me.
On this round, my body is able to relax and stay in the seat at the peaks. Gently holding the rail is all that’s required; hands-free could even be an option now. I start to gaze around me and can finally see more than a blur. Crowds have formed and appear to be watching this misadventure I’ve been stuck on; some are pointing.
Exiting, my legs wobble and barely hold me up to walk out. The conductor is no where to be seen. I look around for him, or for someone I recognize. The crowds are breaking up but still a few linger and stare at me. Just at the point of eye contact, they avert their gaze. I hear someone whisper, how can she be walking?
There’s a twinge of comfort from the fact that someone had the foresight to call an ambulance and it stands with doors wide open, beckoning me to enter, but where are the attendants? They are not to be seen. I’d have to climb in and onto the stretcher unattended.
Not today, I tell myself, walking on, and with each step my body stands a bit more steady, welcoming me back to firmer footing.
Author: Becky Aud-Jennison
Editor: Catherine Monkman