Inspiration Challenge 10: Focus on one of your senses.

I’ve been in a bit of a funk of late, dipping in and out of dark moods of despair, isolation, and self-defeating thought patterns.  All is not lost among the dense fog of gloom; indeed, there are many, many moments of sunshine that break through – though do not dispel – the threatening clouds that loom overhead.  Yesterday was another low, one which has been building for several days now and peaked around 2PM, sitting there in class, frustrated that the entire conversation was way over my head, frustrated that this school wasn’t what I wanted or needed, frustrated, most of all, that the conversation was perfectly manageable for half the class and that this school was exactly what that half wanted and needed.

Or so it seemed.  I’m not sure what’s more frustrating, being caught in circular thinking or the recognition of the circuitous path of your train of thought coupled with an inability to break the cycle.

You’re being really negative.  Jamie’s words, directed at herself not too long ago, but dead on nonetheless.  It’s funny how much negativity can seep out into the rest of your life, so quietly and unobtrusively that the coup is total and complete.  My ambivalence has infected all areas of life and dragged them down: my classes, my relationships, my moments alone with the activities i most enjoy, even my mornings at the keyboard.  It has been damn hard to write this past month.

You’re being really impatient.  Jordan’s words, advice to Lisa that she shared in passing a couple conversations ago.  Even now, Lisa and I find ourselves at similar crossroads in life; despite the thousands of mile between us, her life lessons still cut through my tangled webs of circular thinking that choke off rational thought.

Help comes, as it so often does, from an outside source.  Or in this instance, from two outside sources, both of whom have shouldered a disproportionate burden of helping me through this latest funk.  But from here, I know, I must shoulder the burden myself.  And so, just as I turned to daily inspiration challenges to fight February’s gloom, so too I turned to it yesterday to combat the additional shadows that have haunted my mind for so many weeks now.

Day 10 challenge: focus on one of your senses.

Touch.  The sensation of water running over potatoes, the warmth of the gas stove as it heats up a pot of soup.  Cooking can be remarkably therapeutic or it can be a messy sprint to throw together enough calories to get me through the day.  Last night I chose the former, mental sanctuary in the rhythm of the knife against vegetables, the soft glow of the kitchen light against the fading remnants of day.  The gritty unevenness of potato skin.  Bumpy, tangled ridges of kale.  Granules of salt, cradled in the palm of my hand before released into a bubbling pot, the gentle heat meeting arm and wrist for brief seconds in time.  And dishes, a chore I detest second only to cleaning the toilet, last night even the dishes were sanctuary, smooth porcelain and rivulets of water and the occasional soap bubble dancing on the surface.

Sometimes inspiration comes from the editing process.  Our senses tell parallel strands to the same story, but the mind becomes bogged down by too many details so it filters them out.  That richness of detail is an untapped source of inspiration.  So focus on one sense.  Let the voices of touch, taste, smell, and hearing tell their untold stories.  Last night meant letting go of my passive, reactive, self-victimizing internal dialogue.  Focusing on touch was a metaphor to balance my perspective with multiple voices, and also that we have power over which voices we edit out and which ones we let in.

Day 11 challenge:

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