I just had a perfect cup of tea. Darjeeling. With a lunch of dried chorizo and manchego cheese, a sliced orange bell pepper, a small local apple--not wizened yet, even though it's months out of season--and some strained yoghurt. The spice of the chorizo brings out an underlying smokiness that I don't otherwise taste in the tea. Noticing that, and savouring it, that's a real pleasure. I was going to write about the rough week I'm having, but after that lovely tea I went back at work where I had warm, interesting conversations with several library patrons. Yes, I'm ignoring some of the work I have to get to, but it will still be there in an hour, or in the morning. In the meantime, I'll take having real connections with people over having all my tasks completed.
It's been a rough couple of weeks. I'm not drinking. And I'm not going to drink. Still, more and more I'm feeling the big emotional mess I'd kept tucked away for the past too many years. Without wine to escape into, there's nowhere to go but me. On my birthday, I wrote that I was making a commitment to myself to sit with my discomfort, and I'm doing that. But holy, there's a lot of it to sit with! You know? At times--and there have been a lot of those times these past few days-- my entire being is wanting. The other day, after a particularly bad spell of this, I realized that, at the bottom of wanting a glass of wine or a coffee or a sweet, what I really feel is this: I'm lonely. I didn't know this at the time. But after I went for a run in the rain (hooray for rain!) and got a hot shower, my partner came home and I told him about my day, and I couldn't stop crying. And it came to me that, sometimes, in a way that runs deeper than I'm able to express very well, that's what I'm feeling.
Now, I'm not absolutely alone in the world. I have a loving partner, and people who care about me. But this isn't a rational thing. It's something deep and odd, and I don't think it will get cured by meeting some new friends for coffee once a week, or more dinner parties, or anything like that. When I am wracked with wanting, what it seems I really want is just plain not to be the isolated, separate me that I feel I am right there and then.
But we're not so separate as we feel we are, right? Last week I read Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, Living With a Wild God, and I think she's onto some of what might look like answers. She's a committed athiest, in that she doesn't go in for the big g "God" or organized religion, but she's had what can only be called mystical experiences since she was a child, and her explorations bring her to accepting that there is something wild and connected at the heart of life, the big mystery. She's just pointing at answers, not trying to answer all the questions. I'm not going to try to do a mini-review of the book here--just read it if you're interested in that sort of thing. It's fantastic.
I think Ehrenreich's wild god is what connects us all, and it might well be what saves me. Somehow, getting outdoors and feeling part of the pulsing life that's everywhere, the waterfalls in the park and all those perfect tulips in bloom on so many lawns and cherry blossom petals falling on the street in the rain, ravens making strange raven sounds while the crows chase them away from the good food scraps they've found, some stranger smiling and saying hello when I'm bright pink and sweaty from my run, and me just throwing myself out the door into this big life that's everywhere and realizing I'm just another animal and I'm a part of it the same as the tulips and the raven and the smiling stranger--that's the answer, or it's on the way to the answer, anyway.
I'm doing this. And I'm fine, except when I'm not. I'm reading and walking and running, drinking tea and talking with my partner, watching movies, smiling at strangers, admiring the flowers, showing up for my library shifts. I'm living. I know drinking isn't the answer, and neither is eating too much chocolate or developing a new fixation on blueberry frangipane (though the piece I had yesterday was pretty marvellous). I really didn't know how much I had been hiding from life with all that drinking. It's shocking to me. Life is a bit scary, for sure, and I'm finding it hard these days, sober. But it's where the wonder is, and I'm sticking with that.
Peace and joy to you all, and a big dose of wonder. Thanks for reading.