This has been a year of reeling. I’ve learned that it isn’t only the bad times that knock me down and shake me up, but the good ones, too. No sooner do I get my feet under me, take a few carefree steps when BOOM! – something else comes out of nowhere. The year is dense with overload, bristling with good and bad things like lurid lollypop tongues. It isn’t a bad year or a failed year or even a grieving year. In many respects, 2012 may be one of my most accomplished years, one full of opportunities, revelations, and surprising detours. It is a year of change.
Or is it?
The shifting landscape of my life has forced me to find a calm center that isn’t based on any illusion of control. In the past, my days were ruled by an unwavering agenda. I ran my life like a tight ship, never straying from my course or getting stuck in the doldrums. Small upsets to my schedule made me anxious and fearful. I was inflexible in the weirdest of ways, and continually insisted on doing things that didn’t need to be done simply because I had them scheduled. It took decades for me to learn that life isn’t a boat, and I’m not a captain.
Life is an ocean. Beautiful-terrible, mercurial life! It is the last thing you were ever expecting it to be.
My prissily planned days were an artificial representation of the ocean of life. Sure, you can eliminate unnecessary complexity in calculating forces by assuming all horses are shaped like spheres. The rude fact is that horses are not spherical, and that forces aren’t always easily calculable. Years like this one make me aware that no matter how tightly I pin down one dimension of the equation, there are more variables I hadn’t accounted for popping up elsewhere. I’m finding this in my WIP. It started as a book, expanded to a triology, and is now projected to be a five book series. A series! I am in the second revision of the first book and the draft is … tumescing. I’ve added an additional twelve-thousand words, shutting down any hopes of writing a slim novella. And I’m not finished with the edit, which means that this book, like life itself, is going to keep me reeling.
I mentioned a calm center, but I don’t find them in these frenetic, strange words sparking in their own tinder-boxes of potential. The calm is here, though. All the time, right here.
To reach it, I had to abandon myself to the incalculable tides of fate. The waves stole my flip-flops, the undertow dragged me down. Down, down into my core. At first, it was incredibly hard to sit still quietly with myself. Panic was a threat, an intense urge to make lists was a threat, loud music and cold beer were welcome threats to the simple act of surrender. Yet in the quiet of my core, away from the spinning wheel of the daily, that is where I find true, unchanging peace. Moment to moment, I can go there and be free of what plagues me. There are such bad things, and some such good things, that shift my entire sense of self into a new spectrum of understanding, loathing, or loving. Those are the times the center is needed. Of course, those are also the times when I box in the asshole in the Beemer or snap at the nice guy from IT (and one should never, ever under any circumstances snap at the nice guy in IT!). The discovery of calm hasn’t made me perfect, but it has made me more aware of when I have spun out into the tempest. To go to my center focuses me. The stillness of calm gave me the strength to get out of my Ambition Room, the empowerment to define my own ‘All,’ and access to the conduit that sends me the stories I write.
The calm isn’t contingent on the world or reality. It is untouched by the whirlwinds of tragedy and triumph. It is within me, and it is my grace.