This week has been hard. Perhaps it was the move, perhaps it was reality of seeing a couple of wishful thinking projects come to fruition, perhaps it is a little milestone of 6 months of sattvic living without the aid of a good bottle of wine when exhaustion sets in. In reality it is in fact none of these things, its me, standing on the edge of a new precipice, full of terror at what comes next.
I wrote this while sitting in the Virgin lounge on Wednesday, waiting to fly to a week at the Krishna Village ashram, teaching Bhakti Business to fresh, beautiful souls. The television is non stop bannering the awful death and grief of Orlando, digging deep as possible in a 24 hour news cycle to find each soundbite of the pain of inexplicable violence. All around me folks are swirling in transit, we are pinball people pinging somewhere or other, jostling round the food troughs, each one of us an I and a we simultaneously navigating the world.
The feeling I have in my transit lounge stasis is one of a creeping dread, like someone has taken away that effulgent joy which has been my companion for the past few months, and replaced it with a familiar sense that is now a very unwelcome visitor. I witnessed this come over me like a cloud, hovering. I don’t even want to look at the Orlando footage, or see the people around me, I want to retreat somewhere to turn over what is going on inside and try and make sense of it. I’ve been sleeping, and eating and looking round desperately for a bolt hole to retreat to.
The dots aren’t hard to join. The fear is the familiar companion to so many of us, that I’m not enough, that I won’t be able to deliver on my promise, that I will fail when I most need to succeed. Its dread built on the fantasy of what ifs, and exacerbated by concrete dates and deadlines to meet. The unreal to the real. But its not the unreal. The unreal is my attachment to the material, the identification with the things I have, and the things I don’t have. It’s a struggle with craving and willpower, and a whole world that is created in my mind. I’m suffering over something that doesn’t exist now and will never exist in the way I conceive it in my mind.
This is the unreal, and the real is the right now, the right now I’m ignoring to spend time and energy in fear and panic over nothing. As I slip in and out of witnessing this dance and being frantically on the dance floor, I’m aware of my awareness, and the need to stick with the investigation of what is going on and why this is so pointy all of a sudden. The terror of the feeling of not being enough has the twin fear of never regaining that sense of santosha, of contentment, of connection to the divine, of the security of surrender that allows me to wade into any water without fear of what lies beneath.
As I’m swirling in the mess of thought and reaction one of those moments of perfect timing comes in the form of a handbag call from a dear friend. When we connect, instead of cheerfully being fine, I’m honest about my ragged state, and the confusion of where it has come from, this stormy cloud. The joy of the loving observer with a brave truth speaking mouth is to call it for what it is – the pain of growth. The old hurts of childhood patterns excavated, exposed and bare on the rubble of new building. But what she shows me is the streaky mirror of transition: I’m awake, and feeling, and vulnerable and about to take a step like Hanuman from one side of the world across an ocean of unknown. How marvellous, and how mysterious and bold.
The simple act of acknowledging to myself out loud that I was afraid shifted my awareness, almost instantly. Fear robs joy, fear robs action and bravery. By allowing fear to come over and stay a while, I gave up the joy that comes with surrender to bhakti – to knowing that each moment is perfect and right and my grip on the doing is loose. By slipping back in to having to solve the problems and know the answers I had immediately set up the anxiety inducing paradigm of being the doer, rather than just continuing to open doors, and walk through them, meeting people, places and situations with joy and wonder rather than fear and suspicion.
I’m grateful to friends who are treading the earth along with me, and have the strength and grace to love and be able to hear pain and panic, without the need to fix, merely to reflect back. My sense of wellbeing and excitement returned as soon as the conversation was over, I watched that dam lift to its previous levels, and the power generation get everything flowing again. Growth hurts. There is pain and a deep trigger to return to safe harbour, watching from the edges.
Numb refuges call like sirens and it can feel so solitary scary. Except of course it’s not. It is as small a step as a conversation where you can be all kinds of what the fuck is going on today. The danger is believing we are alone, and this is a solo journey. There is danger in pride, and ego, and attachment. But mainly there is danger in believing what we think is true, and that our minds have authority that can’t be overridden.
Without doubt my daily practice of yoga and meditation is stirring up all the right things needed for change. And the pain of growth transitions to the healing of awareness that this too passed, as will the next inevitable bump. To everyone stepping out of their comfort into the real, lets let go together, devil may care into our bright lights.
Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, do-er, talker, eater, chef, explorer, yogi, kirtaneer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, advised hundreds of start-ups on how to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages. She is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for Global Edtech Startup Prosper Education. Her new book, The Good Hustle, is coming out in February 2018