Just before sunrise one morning last week I sat fidgeting on a 6"x4" cork block in my home office/gym/yoga studio, waiting for a Zoom class to begin.
It was raining hard outside and would be dark for another few minutes. The heat was still turned down to bedtime-low. My feet were cold, my belly desperately wanted a sip of hot tea with milk, and I thought: To hell with this!
In that moment it felt like sitting on a stupid block in a stupid cold room SO FAR away from anywhere I pictured myself sitting up until March 2020--all of these circumstances combined seemed unbearably, intolerably stupid.
Practical thinker that I am, I started to cry. As one does before daybreak on Tuesday mornings in 2020.
As I wiggled and twisted, hating every moment of where I sat and every decision I've ever made that has gotten me here, a single sentence rose from deep within my brain. Something a yoga teacher said to me not so long ago:
Sometimes, strength means sitting still.
Her version of Blaise Pascal's, All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone, I believe.
When life is at its most uncomfortable, try sitting still on the inside and the outside--just in the eye of the storm.
The worst part? There isn't a breathing exercise or comfortable position that will make the feeling of life's heartbreaks any less heartbreaking.
But stay there.
Because what happens when we sit still in misery is that we're forced to remember that doing so is bearable. We remind ourselves that we can. Withstanding hardship is within our range, our scope, and abilities.
Think about it: not pulling on your running shoes and going for a brisk one. Not picking a new YouTube channel to binge-watch (not knocking it! It's why we have YouTube). Not picking your messiest closet or corner to organize it into tidy, color-coded bundles.
Imagine doing nothing. Sitting in it, wave after miserable wave.
Grief and loss cannot be exercised, eaten, or drugged away. That, my friends, is the incredibly bad news. If there was a shortcut, I promise, I would have found it.
But the good news… because you knew it was coming:
If you sit still, close your eyes and dive into the eye of the internal storm, letting your body do the only things it can without much instruction (breathe, cry, gulp, a little mandatory nose-blowing), then the storm does eventually subside. A little.
You will still not feel good. Don't think I'm suggesting that. Without going too deeply into the storm metaphor, you know that after a while another wave of life's dumpster fire is going to come rolling down your driveway.
The good that will come is that you will emerge stronger. Broken, but strong in the broken places. Like Hemingway said.
It's the most we can aim for.
If you DO hear of a shortcut for bypassing the messy and ugly days and weeks and years of our lives, definitely hit me up.