Lock Down

The world will not have it

This idleness, empty space

Laying down, luxuriant, in the warmth of the womb

The world will not have the dark

The flame or the softness

The world would make us busy

Working so our thoughts are monsters

Clinical, thorough, precise

My resistance is cushioned by lock down

In the gluttony of rest I find a still point

Round and elegant

Here the real work begins

Not of this world

But the Other

This world would not have it

But I, watcher at the womb door

Welcome the shadow when She comes

Earned the Right to Take Rest?

I press Stop.

Some friends who follow this blog have commented to me recently that it seems like I am perpetually tired and fighting to go on. My writing reflects this struggle with fatigue. They have a point. Young families, social housing, PhD’s and deep spiritual excavations can take it out of a woman! Never mind the entropy of domestic life. You clean it up, and it just gets messy again. Round and round we go.

I notice as part of my Wheel practice, that my initial response to the observation is denial and defensiveness. I am not tired! Or so what if I am! I can handle it all! It’s hard to admit sometimes that I am not as in control as I like to think I am.

It’s OK to press stop.

It’s OK to let my family know that tonight I’d like to go to bed early and be alone for a little while.

It’s definitely OK to do this without a drama. When we give ourselves permission to rest when we need to, it’s easy to let the people close to us know that we are doing so. No big deal. When our need to take a break is tainted with judgements about worthiness and the need to state that we have earned this rest, well, we can act up in all kinds of silly and destructive ways.

Sometimes I need a rest and in the eyes of my inner critic, I didn’t really do anything to justify it. So the lists of ‘all that I do’ come out, the whiny voice of self-justification. I feel compelled to share these reasons with those around me. I teach my children that rest must be earned. Really? And who calculates what counts as work? Was I at that meeting? What kind of cultural belief am I agreeing to when I refuse to allow my knackered body an early night because I didn’t earn it? How much time do I waste by not resting when I need to, in the name of a false belief in what counts as productivity, that is sanctioned by a wider consumer-material culture? The flip side of a cultural belief in needing to ‘earn a rest’ is the equally damaging response of taking too much rest, too much leisure, too much reward. I earned this!

I sat with a friend today watching my son walking. He mastered it about three weeks ago. And he’s really good now. Because every day he practices: he gets up and starts trying to walk. We were reflecting on how babies just get on with stuff, not because they have to or someone tells them to, but because of the sheer joy of it. They haven’t got those moral filters on. They never get tired of their work – to keep walking, to keep making sounds. Except, actually they do!  They walk and walk and walk, and then they get tired. Or hungry. Or they make a big old dump. And if we are wise carers with gently flexible schedules, we let them sleep. Or eat. Or clean them up. And when the business of rest or sustenance or discomfort is done, they carry on, from that pure place of single minded Joy. I am mindful when I follow this formula. Walk when I need to. Eat when I need to. Rest when I need to.

I’ll keep walking towards it! And tonight, I press Stop. Early bedtime, with a hot water bottle and a good film to watch in bed. I begin ten days of recapitulation exercises tomorrow, as I slowly exit from the West of the Wheel.  Visiting my Circle Partner in Denmark in 10 days time. Literally heading North!  Work I choose to do. And when I don’t stress about whether this counts as the kind of work that earns me a rest, then everything is cool in the world.

Night night xx

Jagged Edges in The West

Sometimes we have to leave it.  For real.

I find myself irritated and dry.  Over-full, not with an over-flow of love, but the clutter of unfinished business and stuff and the debris collected over generations.

No time to finish any of it.  No sense of pulling together, in the inner and outer world, to clear the decks of this boat.

I snap.  Easily.  Quickly.  Brittle people are like that.

This fragile balance gets upset easily by broken microwaves, convenience deprivation, changing clothes over, unfinished D.I.Y, the fact that I have cracked my little toe and this tiny injury is rendering me incapable of pulling off the super woman act I put on most days.  Funny how the body gets its own back……   So I am in this state of being crippled by a silly injury and still trying to get things done. Trying to get stuff clear, you know?

Wow.  Head for the long exhale.  Jagged edges never got smoothed with a blunt knife.

In my tool box I have been given an way to explore into presence.  This is a gift, if only I remember it’s there.

So.  What am I thinking right now?

(I’m sick of not having the time and space, literally and metaphorically, for me.  Clarify me.  The things I need to do in order to be supple and nourished, as opposed to brittle and bled dry.  Note the ‘sick’.  Insert ‘broken toed’ if required.)

What am I feeling right now?

(I’m feeling irritated.  Jumpy.  Physically agitated.  Dry, dry, dry to the point of itchiness.  I am itching!  Itching for a fight, for action, for whatever.)

What do I want right now?

(For everything to be in its place.  In my house.  in my head.  On my desk.  A helpful, smooth running household.  In the outer and inner world.)

This tool helps to ease the itch.  I will not go into the living room now and pick a fight with my partner, my sister or my children.  I won’t be the moody, aggressive one on the streets, projecting paranoia onto passers by.

I have been gifted another tool.  Asking ‘what’ instead of ‘why’.  Asking why? can put me in a big old maze that I can stay in for years.  Asking what? gives me the power to name and release, and I mean that.

What happened today?

I have been granted a maternity extension to my thesis, giving me and extra 7 months to finish it.  This is a more realistic time scale for getting it done right.  I tried sitting down and planning how to use that extra 7 months this morning and it made me so angry!  In the last few months I have re-discovered passion and excitement for my work, but at this moment it was gone.  This was resentful anger.  Planning the next 7 months around this thesis, which grows in it’s demands for more of me with every extension I get, I hate it for dominating my time.  How it sucks up space, energy, time.

Like….. life can’t start till it’s done.

And I am done postponing my life!

So I switched from thesis as reflection of my inner world, to house as reflection of my inner world.  I started trying to clear things out of cupboards, finish D.I.Y, toss out old clothes, organise paperwork.

With a broken toe and a sick baby (my son has croup right now so it’s been sleepless nights for a week)

No really.  Writing this I wonder at my insanity.  What do I doubt about my worth that I have to do all this proving of my abilities?  Is it not enough to be limping with a sick baby to look after and a 4 year old on school holidays, operating within a patriarchal, capitalist framework that won’t let my partner take family leave without losing part of his wages?

As I tried clearing out the stuff I felt MASSIVE resistance.  And I love a good clear out.  Not today.  Physical inhibitions extended into my mind.   I felt this misplaced, misguided clinging to these old, no longer useful to me, things.  Our tiny flat seemed unbearably crowded now with superfulous things and unfinished work.

Because there is so much to finish, it is too much.

This makes me want to throw everything away.

But then I can’t distinguish between useful and un-useful, not in the state I’m in!

(A little voice in my head speaks to me and says, what is stopping you from having a rest right now?)

I hold onto this state of limbo.  These things.  This work.  I hold onto all of it with resentment that I am holding onto it.  I refuse to consider the possibility of putting the load down for one day to rest so that I can restore the physical capacity to do the work, and draw on the support of others when they are at home to help.

The i ching has a wonderful hexagram in it that comes up again and again in my dealings with it.  It is the one that says, hey, the hour is not beneficial sister, if you think the forces are against you, it’s because they are!  Lay your load down and stop doing.  Conserve your energy.  Then, having rested, you will arrive at a more beneficial hour for taking action.  Keep pushing against the tide, and you’ll be too exhausted to notice even when a more beneficial hour arrives and punches you on the nose.

Taking a breath, I apologise to those I belong to who are closest to me.  On whom I have unleashed my irritation and frustration.  They are gracious and accomodating.  They urge me to drop it, and just rest.  No big deal.  Sometimes resting is the work.

Asking What? allows us to untangle the impossibly complex web of Why?, transforming it into a description that releases through naming.

It’s time to return to my work.

Music appears by magic.

For real.


To get the tools, check out ‘Wheel of Initiation’ by Julie Tallard Johnson.