So. The cold continues to bite. Two of my fingers keep turning numb and white. As if I’m turning to ice. Why? I ask them. But I know the answer – the cold is not just physical; it echoes through my emotional bones. And it’s not just me. It seems that, right now, so many of us are enduring the bone-cold, a spiritual ice winter.
You can say it’s the lack of light, the absence of sun, the harsh economic climate – you can claim a gazillion reasons. And we hustle around looking for solutions, for sticking plasters, for ways to push away the cold, to make it back off for a little. We can dose ourselves with alcohol or food, we can cry Prozac, we can distract ourselves in a hundred different ways. Me? I fight the urge to swathe myself in blankets and dogs and huddle the fire – I make myself go out and exercise like a loon.
But then, I wonder. What do we lose when we seek to avoid? Life is a process; a circle; a spiral. Yes, we can blitz ourselves with positive affirmations; we can go Zen and remind ourselves that it’s not really real, hence it doesn’t really matter but… Is that missing something? Is this process just a case of existing, of passing time in as pleasant a manner as possible? Sometimes I think so. But then thinking…can be overrated. So what do I feel?
I go back to Alchemy. Calcination. Dissolution. Separation. Conjunction. Fermentation. Sublimation. Radiation. Seven steps. Circling. You reach the end and start all over again, just on a different coil of the serpent. And it’s not just you, or I – it’s us. “The human heart is the crucible of the cosmos.” I can’t remember who said that but it chimes – our inner lives are not our own; they belong to the cosmos. If we want to change the world, we start with ourselves.
Is the world served by squashing down bad feelings; by denying them; by refusing to countenance anything except light and bright as ‘good’? I don’t feel so. If we push away the ‘bad’ it festers – not just in us but in the world around us. It’s like foisting our dirty laundry on the world, leaving our smelly socks in the hallway. Bad housekeeping.
The dark nights of the spirit and soul (yes, I feel they are two different things) are not mistakes, not aberrations, or so I feel – they’re not signs that we’re not good enough, not spiritual enough, or whatever. They’re a vital part of the process. Sometimes we have to be cut off from everything that gives us joy, everything that makes life seem worthwhile – every height has a corresponding depth. No?
So what do we do? Nothing much. Abet the feelings, amplify them even – we so rarely listen to the messages written in the body. Our bodies, our subconscious (the two in cohoots, or maybe the same?) are trying, I feel, to communicate with our conscious minds all the time. Yet we refuse to pay attention. Sleep. Breathe. Daydream. Wonder where the body and mind wander. Try a secondary process (if you're primarily visual, turn your images into sounds; if you're a musician, maybe you need to move, to work with the somatic?). But mainly...wait.
Well, that’s what I do. Hmm.