it feels as though melancholy’s seed was planted inside of me a few weeks ago, but I was too distracted to notice – too busy with the new city, new apt, new friends, job prospects, company, day trips, and on and on. now that the distractions are starting to disappear i can feel the magnitude of that melancholy now. it’s as though that seed found it’s way into a tired, vulnerable pocket of my heart and planted some firm, sprawling roots over the entire landscape of my Self. i’ve been trying for days to shake off these roots, stomp them to the ground, and uncover my light, but they’re persistent little buggers.
Buddhist believe that you cannot see your reflection in running water, only in still water. what happens when i’m still? without all of those distractions?
3 years ago john and i sold our house in portland, including many of our belongings and one of our cars. we put what was left in storage and set out on a one year adventure. we spent the first 4 months on a road trip down the california coast and then across the country. why did we do this? we wanted a change of pace in our lives. we were feeling that we had become too complacent as two young professionals in our twenties. we were on the well trodden path of home owning, working full time jobs, going to home depot on the weekends. we wanted more. we wanted to take some time to explore. we wanted to spread our wings. but i digress. back to what happens sometimes when i try to be still.
there was a moment that summer, just after we set out on our adventure, in a beautiful, quiet campground in Big Sur where i felt the tension of Big Sur’s awe-inspiring landscape fighting with my internal chaos . Big Sur, what with all it’s stunning coastal views and it’s serene sensibility, was inviting me to feel peaceful, still, rested. instead, the quiet i was feeling was a lonely, aching, i-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself quiet. it was a torturous experience for me because i desperately wanted to quiet my mind, and just be in the moment of this fantastic experience. but i just couldn’t figure out how to do it. i feared i would spend the entire trip feeling like a suffocated spirit unable to release herself. eventually, after being worn down by the constant push and pull of my mind, i began to cry one evening in our tent, surrounded by the sounds of the gigantic trees and ocean. it was a deep, deep sobbing that touched down into pit of my fears. with every breath of sobbing, i was shedding many layers of muck that were piled up, on, and around my heart, smothering its light. there were layers of fear, anger, worry, guilt, to name a few. it was as if Big Sur gave me the clarity to identify which layers were taking up all the space, and gave me the freedom to finally, without any distractions, consciously peel them away, one by one.
so that experience brings me back to where i am today. john and i spent the last few days camping and exploring one our favorite areas of the california coast: monterey, capitola, pacific grove, half moon bay. and i feel as though i’m right back where i was in the Big Sur campground 3 years ago, only i haven’t shed the layers yet. the melancholy is with me. the quiet time makes me feel restless, and i can feel myself resisting, squirming, and trying to enjoy this break before i have to go back to a job. i’ve even given myself full days to sit with Sadness, learn it’s landscape, listen to it, in hopes that it would move on, like any good neighbor whose worn out its welcome would do.