Where in the spiral are you?

I broke a streak. 

I am so disappointed. 

I try to give myself a break. What’s a day? 

A day turns into two. 

I sit paralyzed and anxious that I’ll never get back on the path. 

I’ve done that before. Given up. Succumbed to a bad case of the fuckits.

Self-doubt bares its bloody teeth in the dark. 

I take a torch from the fire and wave it around in circles like a maniac.

“Get back!” I growl in return. The flames and sparks spin around me, like stars in the milky way.

I get dizzy and fall to the ground, breathless.

Above me, I see the stars. 

Stars spiral around our planet. 

Our planet too travels around the sun – a star – locked in its orbit. 

Even the moon circles around us, constantly in motion.

“The only constant is change.” Cyclical change to be precise. 

The tide ebbs and flows as the moon waxes and wanes. The sun rises and sets. The seasons cycle. Hormones cycle. What goes up comes down. What goes around, comes around. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The farther we go from nature, the more contempt we have for the cyclical in ourselves. We put emphasis on consistency, on straight lines. On winning streaks. On “staying on the beam”. When we run out of gas, we urge ourselves to keep going, to push through. When we are in transition or grieving, we impatiently await the time when we will get over it. 

But it is not in our nature. It is not IN nature, period. Nature curls in on herself, like a wave. She revs and coasts.

And that is how we are built. The biochemicals coursing through our blood, and the protein in our cells is designed to rise with the coming light and rest in the darkness. To ingest and expell. To inhale and exhale.

But I resist this rhythm. 

I want my life to be straight and clear as an airport runway from start to finish. I don’t want bumps on the road, or curves. I want clarity to see what is coming. Preferably nothing: clear runway, clear skies, a strong tailwind. 

But that is not life on this planet. That is not the human condition. 

Life in human form means having ups and downs, profit and loss. It means getting excited and being disappointed. It means leaping and falling, trying and failing. It means running marathons and getting the flu. It means being young and getting old. It means the capacity for acts of heroism and pointed self-interest. 

And so I lay on the ground out of breath, and gripped by fear that I will never rise again. That is the great con of depression, of the dark night of the soul – that the sun will never again shine, spring will never again sprout. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t fully 100% believe I will rise again. Nothing grows in the dark but doubt. 

The Spring does come again, of course. Because nature laid to rest, fallow. It hibernated in a den.

I do rise again, but only because I took a moment to catch my breath.

What if, instead of streaks, we spoke of spirals? Designed systems that did not stretch into runways, but rather spiralled upwards? Planted rests in the bars of our melodies? What if we acknowledged seasonal variations in our endeavours? How much self-doubt would we wrap our arms around and spoon in the night? How much anxiety would we watch dissipate in smoke above our winter fires? 

Instead of “how are you?”, we’d greet one another saying “where in the spiral are you?”

If I wish to breathe more air into my lungs, I need to exhale first. If I wish to create, I must take time to be still. If I wish to sing, I must begin in silence. If I wish to see light again, I must close my eyes. 

And rest.

Photo credit:  (Matt Paul Catalano)

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