“When (one) encounters their own stuckness, anger or grief, so often they will ask, “What can I do!?” But really it’s only the ego which needs to ‘do something’ about tension. If the encounter is made in earnest – if one feels all the way into their stuckness, acknowledges the magnitude of their anger, allows grief to do its overwhelming justice – then things are already put in the motion of change. The Greeks called this way of nature ‘enantiadromia’ – when something is fully admitted and recognized, it begins to turn into its opposite.” – Taken from Dreamwork with Toko-pa
She cried last night and the night before. It was all she seemed to do of late. The walls just kept getting thicker and closing in. That was what it felt like on some days. On others, it felt more like being trapped inside a room filled with water right up to the concrete ceiling…swimming around inside it with no hope of having her head break the surface.
She missed her pet fish. It had died last month.
After swishing and flipping its fins day after day, night after night, it had died. Noiselessly and without a fuss, it had died the death of a nobody. In truth, she’d been a little relieved at first. Its way of life within the confines of its fishbowl had reminded her quite miserably of her own. Besides, wasn’t it cruel to keep a living being in an enclosed space like that? So, she’d waited and waited for it to die- in the hope that its death may bring her closure of some kind.
And yet, it had seemed so cheerful- swimming excitedly towards her every time she entered the room or it heard her voice or even when it saw her wake up in the mornings from by her bedside. Till the very end, it had remained spry and spirited, as though it possessed the knowledge of how living life fully, meant taking pleasure in the small moments. Boredom and routine which had become such crippling realities for her, never weighed too heavily on her slippery friend.
She’d envied it. She’d pitied it. And now, she missed it.
She’d never thought to find out if it had been a male or a female fish. She’d never given it a name. Wasn’t that sad- to realize all of this only after something had ceased to exist? Italics. ‘Italics’ is what she’d have named her now dead, pet fish if it were still alive.
She loved giving things names- pets, friends, old haunts. It made her feel like they belonged to her and she to them…like if and when the time came to part, she’d carry a little piece of them along with her wherever she went. For, naming something had a way of capturing the essence of experiences once shared. Experiences though- some of them- no matter how evocative at the time, felt rather contrived in their aftermath. Feeling them lose their buoyancy was a lot like watching an ice lolly left to melt outside in the sun. All that got left behind was a pink stain on the hard, cool floor of the marble window sill.
Or maybe that was just her mind playing tricks on her again. Maybe if she walked along the beach at night, picked up one of those pretty sea shells in the sand and pressed it to her ear, she’d hear it all call out to her again with renewed vigor- her wispy, ghostly companions from times gone by- in a kind of symbolic, rhapsodic (re)affirmation of life.
Maybe. Just maybe.
Slayed. Devoured. Indifferent. No, wait…rewind. She’d once had someone lightheartedly tell her how they thought indifference was ‘the real shit’. At 24, she’d thought they’d sounded clever. Today, not so much. The funny thing about indifference was this: at best, it was only skin-deep (there were always chinks in the armor) and at worst, it sought to invalidate existence itself. It ran completely counter to healthier tendencies of actively interpreting and finding meaning in the kaleidoscopic flux that was life.
Meaning was in the ‘gestalt’- that most wholesome of wholes that pulsated, throbbed, and surged with life.
In it lay enmeshed a compelling tapestry that was just waiting to be untangled, claimed and reclaimed. The canvas was hers to paint, to breathe, to weave her story into; the collective, hers to bestow upon.
Life was misery. Life was suffering. Suffering was human and in the wisdom that it offered, suffering could be divine. She was divine. Integration lay in allowing oneself the time to gently unfold…to individuate. Individuation was the soul’s clarion call to her to turn inwards and search the stillness within. She was a mirror image of the universe- a numinous work in progress. The universe was at play and perpetually invited her to be a part of its slowness…to drench herself in its chaos.
Gratitude, forgiveness, compassion- they were the ‘real shit’.
And, as so elegantly put by Lebanese-American poet, Kahlil Gibran and further reiterated by the very insightful depth psychologist, Toko-pa Turner, to ‘bleed willingly and joyfully’ was a desideratum, for it was the mark of a life lived with dignity and grace.
I have a Masters degree in Psychology from Delhi University. Depth and Positive psychology, singing, and writing are my three big passions. Lisa is the name of my favourite four legged friend. You can get in touch with her at [email protected].