I was sitting in the waiting room of my physical therapist’s office yesterday morning, thumbing through a People magazine. I was early for my 8:15 appointment, so she was still moving around me, tidying the office. She greeted me, of course, and I continued to “read” meaningless celebrity “news”.
“Have you done any blogging lately?” she said out of nowhere.
“No,” sigh, “I’ve been kind of in a funk. Writing would probably get me out of it, but I just haven’t found my way there in a while.”
“Yeah, it really centers your spirit, doesn’t it?”
Man, we haven’t even started my PT yet and she’s already getting at the core. How does she do that?
The last time I blogged, I was sitting in Jerusalem. Today I am sitting, still in pajamas, on the futon in my office in my little house by the river. Then, I was floating high on the experience, the relationships, the food — have I mentioned the food? Today, I am back in the mundane — classes, laundry, tax preparation, and the like.
It’s a lot easier to write about the fantastic, isn’t it? It’s lovelier to live in the beautiful. However, we do most of our dwelling in the ordinary, so coming down from the extraordinary sometimes involves a crash landing. And crash I did.
Some of the crash was circumstantial. I went from touring brilliantly-farmed land lush with oranges, strawberries, and figs to trudging across frozen tundra. I transitioned from touring on a bus full of enthusiastic learners who scored one another’s jokes, sang together, laughed together, and cried together, to spending a lot of time on my own sorting receipts, preparing for class, and putting away suitcases.
Some of the crash was self-inflicted. My doctor had recommended before the trip that I do a 21-day elimination diet to see if any foods were causing my pain and/or inflammation. I postponed it until after the trip (yes, the trip where we ate like kings three times a day), but started immediately when we got home. For the past three weeks, in addition to not eating gluten or dairy (both of which I have avoided for three years), I also eliminated soy, corn, citrus, peanuts, pork, and it seems like most everything else. Oh, and at the same time I finished weaning myself off Zoloft.
Yeah, I’m nuts. I mean if you’re going to come off the mountaintop, you might as well swan-dive, right? The thing about swan-diving, though, is that you can go pretty far down pretty darn quickly.
The casual observer might not detect the shift in position — from mountaintop to deep, dark valley. The physical therapist? The husband? Oh, they saw the shift. I did, too. I could feel the snark, but I couldn’t shake it.
It probably didn’t help that we came back right before the presidential inauguration and all the virtual “noise” that ensued , because I certainly have difficultly not engaging with all of that. And, rather than turning to my writing, which I know is an outlet for my emotions, I instead turned my gaze to the other things that need my attention — grading, a project I started for my in-laws a year ago, unfinished tax prep — and I thought to myself, it would be pretty selfish of you to sit down and blog for an hour right now. You have other people depending on you.
And I believed that voice. I muted the truth that says, “Oxygenate yourself first.” I forgot that “in repentance and rest is my salvation; in quietness and trust is my strength.” I trudged onward, avoiding my need for self-care, while attending to tasks that preserved the facade — cleaning the house, preparing for teaching, ironing clothes, cooking…anything but taking the pause that refreshes and centers my spirit.
So, after a sermon on Sunday about suffering and the encounter with my physical therapist who noted that my body is “all over the place,” I give up. I turn to the keys. I am honest. I’ve been struggling, but I’m turning, guys. I’m turning. It might take a minute, but I’m turning.
I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.