It’s another day in global crisis, my friends, and this has afforded many of us with much more time on our hands than we’re used to. For some of us with mental health problems, the loss of our routine and the possibility of even more financial hardship means certain destabilization.
While reading the Tao Te Ching today, I came across a beautiful quote I wanted to share with my internet community.
In olden times, the ones who were considered worthy to be called masters were subtle, spiritual, profound, wise. Their thoughts could not be easily understood. Since they were hard to understand, I will try to make them clear. They were cautious like men wading a river in winter. They were reluctant like men who feared their neighbors. They were reserved like guests in the presence of their host. They were elusive like ice at the point of melting. They were like unseasoned wood. They were like a valley between high mountains. They were obscure like troubled waters. . . we can clarify troubled waters by slowly quieting them. We can bring the unconscious to life by slowly moving them. But he who has the secret of the Tao does not desire for more. Being content, he is able to mature without desire to be newly fashioned.”Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu
We are in the middle of raging rapids. Waves crash, destroy, but they also whisper. We are bound by this eternal gravitation between the Earth, the moon, and the rate of our spin. We can hold water behind a dam, we can melt ice and let sea levels rise, we can trap it in a pool, we can let it evaporate, but inevitably it falls back to earth. We can manipulate its form, but never erase it.
Let’s think of distress in a similar fashion.
I don’t know how you’ve been during this pandemic. I don’t know how your anxiety is, your depression, your voices, your self-esteem, your confidence, your happiness, your family, your pets. (I’d love to know though, leave comments below if you’d like to share, or meet me on Instagram). I know that I personally have braved waves of panic attacks, nights of voices telling me I’m dying and that I don’t exist, trying to trick me into separating from the panic of today. I’ve faced a sense of hopelessness, financial burden, and fear for my parents, one of which has several serious physical underlying health conditions. There’s been days I switch between so many states of emotion that I didn’t have the strength to walk four feet to the bathroom.
Whether you’ve experienced similar things or you haven’t, I urge you to practice yielding judgement of this moment, this very second, as you read this. Let’s not avoid the anxiety, the stress, or the pain we may be in. Let’s not fill ourselves with meaningless distraction. Lets not cling too desperately to the sparks of happiness or joy as if we’ll never experience them again, or as if we’re uncertain when we will experience them again. Let’s instead acknowledge the importance of all states, unified, and accept this moment for what it is.
In this moment, I feel the pain of my back injury radiating down my right thigh. I feel my head resting against the soggy cushion of this couch. I feel the stress of bills tightening my shoulders, where I hold a lot of my tension. Anxiety is cold in my feet. There is also contentment and acceptance. With all these things, I let them be. I don’t seek ways to eradicate the physical pain. I don’t fluff the couch cushions, I don’t scramble to straighten out finances. I’m not warming my feet. I’m not questioning my contentment or acceptance.
It’s not irresponsible to breathe in the moment and accept horribleness for its unique horribleness, or euphoria for its lack of insight. This is not a time to tear yourself apart. This is a time to remind your mind and body that they are a stronger force together than separate.
This moment is one among trillions. Celebrate that. There will never be another like it.
Be well, friends. Practice good information hygiene, and take advantage of as many resources as you can. Volunteer what you can, donate what you can. You’re only as healthy as your sickest community member.
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