Mystery is not always about travelling to new places, it is about looking with new eyes.Esther Perel
In a data-driven culture that so heavily defines our worth by the number on the scales, or the size of our jeans, or the balance of our bank accounts, we’ve left so little room for feeling deeply; for bringing curiosity, and even a sense of playfulness, to the harder parts of our lived experience. We’re addicted to the high and heady feelings of joy, and don’t want to set up camp in the valley of the shadow of grieving.
As a result, our knowing and our being are in a state of disconnect, and when our bodies, minds, or hearts experience that inevitable deep grief, we have plenty of ways to escape the uncomfortability of it- often through consumption, be that food, fashion, drugs, exercise, sex, indoor plants (guilty as charged).
What I’m learning, though, is that pain and joy can not only coexist, but that they are inextricably intertwined, one never without the other; that true contentment can be found in the liminal space between them both. And I’m finding that engaging my imaginative, curious, and wild side allows me to be more and more present to the wisdom my body holds.
In this season of adjusting to having three little ones, of reconstructing ideas around faith and feeling and healing, and of cold mornings and wet days, I have found my wild by the ocean. I’ve counted down from ten and have followed my resolve through the whipping wind, on numb feet across cold, hard sand, into the vast grey mass of water that snatches the involuntary scream from my throat and makes me come alive with a hundred thousand pinpricks to the skin; a very visceral connection and return to my body.
And maybe I’m crazy and impulsive, swimming in the almost frozen winter ocean. But maybe, I’m finding perfectly sane expressions of wild grief and deep joy, and letting my body feel the depth that my mind and heart are feeling- entering into and immersing myself in something far greater than myself- that moves outside of my control; that carries and holds me and washes me clean: the salty tears of the earth.
What looks imaginative, curious, and wild to one person may look completely different for another, but whatever that side is for you, I encourage you to find it. It will be hard, sure. It might take you to places within yourself, within your brutal and beautiful experience, that hurt like hell, and that make you want to run for the hills. But alongside those spaces of deep grief, it will take you by the hand and lead you into places of deeper joy and wonder, too; places of deeper understanding and compassion and love for yourself, for others, and for the natural world.
Hi, this article touched a real note with me and talk about timing!
I feel like I am drowning in grief right now.
Lovely friends suggest that I am suffering from depression and that I should see the doctor and get some pills but to my mind and for me that isn’t going to help me process everything that I’ve been through/am going through. For sure it may give me temporary respite from the feelings that threaten to engulf me but I wonder what good is that if underneath it I am still just processing my life’s events, that sooner or later a new levelling of my life will take place and I will adjust and I will feel better? I respect that for the few friends I have, I have no family here and a brother in the uk, it is hard to see me and to understand what I am working through. They do not understand how it is possible to have an outside expression to the world that is not what you feel or look like once in the safety of home. I have no words for the grief that I feel other than it is multi faceted, that at times, it takes my breath away, at others I can smile and see the beauty around me. There is no logical pattern, instead there is just a sense of being. I hate feeling like this but it is just life.
Sorry for the ramble, not much point in what I am saying other than to write and express myself I guess.
Hey Shaz, sounds like you’re going through a super tough time! I’m glad my writing resonated with you at this stage of your journey. My experience with my own mental health struggles has been that finding my ‘wild’ has been so helpful, especially in nature.. and that seeking help is so important- be that from my social and family networks, or professional help. You can see your GP to talk about how you’re feeling, and they can refer you on to a psychologist for 10 free sessions (if you’re in Australia). Sending love your way xx