Pick one. The options, surely, are plentiful. Pick something that troubles your heart, your mind. It could be global, national, closer to home, or deeply personal. Now, hold it out with a little distance between you and this chosen source of distress. Examine it with just enough reserve to be nearly, but not quite, dispassionate. See it from different angles, walk around it, get curious, but not sucked in. Keep on the far side of eliciting fight or flight. Notice how much energy and attention it takes to hold even just this one challenging thing in check.
Now, plug in your life. Watch how even this one stressor ebbs and flows, sometimes tucked deep inside, other times leeching to the surface, finding cracks in your carefully constructed exterior.
This little examination is with just one of your many sources of grief, loss, hurt, anxiety. Acknowledging all that we are carrying and trying to manage as we function in our daily lives can be pretty staggering. Trying to find middle ground between being numb or a puddle of emotions is a daily dance.
How are we, then, to tend to our heart tugs and various concerns while being present, connected, productive, and real? Our dominant culture would suggest that we suck it up, show no signs of any struggles, and keep vulnerability at bay at any cost. It’s a flawed plan. It’s un-Wild. And it’s a recipe and source of deep loneliness and isolation. It sets us up to feel like we are failing if – and when – the façade breaks. And, perhaps most damaging, it keeps us apart, because if we let anyone in too close, the struggles we are trying to stoically carry might start to show.
So, we need a new plan, a lot of plans, to find our way back to ourselves, our Wild nature, and to connect and support one another in this wholly shared experience of being human.
We can start by acknowledging this reality that every single one of us shares. We can hold space for each other, to let the cracks show, when that’s our only truth in a given moment. I, for one, have found that when that pressure can be released, I can find my equilibrium again.
We can remind each other what we forget in the chaos: take a breath, look around, exhale, feel your feet on the ground, come back to yourself from the swirl of worry and isolation. What can you hear, what colors do you see? Get outside, or at least find a window. Find the long view, the expanse of space that tells us life is still happening.
And…find a friend, along with your courage. Choose wisely, but do choose. Let’s stop pretending that going it alone is anything other than a terrible idea. Be the one who dares to speak or cry or fall into someone’s arms. Take the trustfall.
This world is a complicated, terrifying, beautiful, stunning, difficult, awe-inspiring, maddening, lovely place that asks only that we show up for it. Whole. Real. Present. I think it’s the simplicity that trips us up, along with our propensity to make things far more complicated.
So, friends, it’s time to acknowledge our grief. It was never intended to be a solo voyage. We share it and all carry it, as surely as we live and breathe. Grief is with us, all of us. Better to befriend it than do our best to tolerate or ignore it. And when it is just too much, go to ground with your trusted few. We’ve got this. Together.