I was on my way home from Mexico a couple of weeks ago. We were on the plane, in the airport, in a cab etc. when I noticed that I was having an acute reaction to the world. It was irritating me. Every particle of it, especially those that required my presence, awareness, or interaction.
It was my cousin who provided me the window into what was then my current condition. We had come directly to her house from our late night arrival the airport. It was now the next morning and our plan was to get in our car, run errands, and then head (blissfully) home.
“Oh, you need to get home and have some time to yourself don’t you?” she said in such a compassionate tone of voice after witnessing a moment of tension between my husband and I.
“Oh my god you are so right,” I responded with a sigh of relief, sitting there on the floor trying to close the suitcase so I could get it in the car. “Even my husband is irritating me beyond belief. And usually I LOVE him!”
“Do you want me to drive?” my husband said to me later when I got behind the wheel.
“No I’m okay. Why?”
“I don’t think you’re all here right now,” he responded honestly.
I am certain that is what it looked like from the outside. From the inside…
What it felt like from the inside was a great and deep longing to return to myself. An unbearable urge to dive into that deep place inside of me where I sort through it all. Where I look at everything and nothing. Where I lallygag or process without agenda or forethought. Where I rest, understand, and experience peace, alone.
My body was longing, leaning so hard toward that place of silence, out of necessity that from the outside it looked as though I was barely there. Everything that interrupted me from this journey felt like a piece of sand rubbing in my eye or something, something uncomfortable and grating that was taking me away from my own ability to go inside, see, and get what I needed.
As I was driving down the road, feeling it all, I kept being reminded of another time period of my life. My grandfather was dying. Knowing this was happening I went back to Minnesota where he lived in order to be with him and help take care of him. I lived at his house for weeks while he was fighting and ultimately succumbing to his lung cancer. During that time, in addition to myself and my grandfather in his house there was at all times one of my aunts, uncles, or my mother. My grandfather’s children took turns being his caretaker during those last months of his life.
It was a beautiful time really. One I don’t regret in the slightest (similar to Mexico). But I still do remember the feeling that being in that constant proximity to others night and day without break induced in my body. It was the same experience I was having now after two full weeks in Mexico, in constant proximity, night and day to others.
I was watching it all in my mind, sorting through it as I drove down the road, when I felt such a wave of compassion for my younger self come over me. I saw how, not only during those extreme times, but especially growing up, younger Aimée had experienced this kind of external irritation countless times, only then she didn’t know what it was about. She felt only the rub. And the inexplicable pull toward something deeper that she couldn’t define. The experience that everything else, no matter what it was, was preventing her from getting something she needed. Only then she did not have the know-how or the permission to give it to herself: solitude.
For most, me included, you don’t learn while growing up, “You may need solitude to rejuvenate.” No one ever says to you, “Even if you are naturally outgoing, like you are, you may still need large doses of alone time to feel balanced and whole.” In my family, despite certain members of my family being similarly built it was unknown as a medicine.
In any case, last week in the car, on the LONG journey home from our two-week vacation, I had an epiphany. Only it was one in hindsight. It was as if my present being was giving a wave of love and understanding to the Aimée of the past.
Thankfully in my life now these extreme moments of complete and total irritation are rare. And I know what I need. Thankfully also, in our daily routine at home, I have all of the ritual staples in my life in order to maintain and achieve this balance. On vacation, those mostly go to the wayside. I don’t have a private studio to meditate in every day. I am surrounded by people night and day. The breaks I do get are smaller than the size of my needs. People are the things we go to visit. 🙂
However that day, despite the great imbalance I am happy to report that once I had a handle on what was going on I was able to control it. I resigned myself to the experience. I bucked up and stopped wishing that people would only speak to me if it was absolutely necessary to their continued existence! I answered my husband’s plea to shift my attitude with a genuine attitude shift. I accompanied it all with an internal wink of knowing that this is what was required of me now but that I WOULD get what I needed later.
I wouldn’t say I was 100% there, I could still hear that strong internal call loud and clear. But I did show up with as much as was required, and with a better attitude in order to accomplish the tasks at hand. And I stopped reacting in an irritated way to everything, including my husband, recognizing that truly he like everything else in the world had nothing to do with it.
Another unexpected gift was that when I got home I unpacked EVERY SINGLE thing we had (a process that can sometimes takes weeks at our house) in a matter of a few hours. It was like a compulsion. I just knew I needed to. On some internal level I knew that that day was shot—I would never get what I needed. BUT, if I had everything done, then tomorrow was a whole new ball game.
And so it was.
It’s a couple of weeks later now I can tell you that the temporary eyes-of-sandy-fire experience is gone. I am whole again. 🙂
The moral of the story?
Solitude is not an optional state for some people.
It is a true and healthy natural medicine.
And its loss no matter how great can be redeemed again.
Maybe this applies to you.
Maybe this applies to your children.
Apply its medicine when needed. Help your loved ones do so too.
Trust me, the world will be a happier place. (Rainbow. Sunbeam, Smile.)
All my love,