I read somewhere that prayer is how you talk to God and meditation is how God talks to you. And if I have needed anything in the past few weeks it was some kind of sign from the Universe, something that told me that it was okay for things to be how they were. It was okay that it wasn’t all working out exactly as I imagined.
Except, I wasn’t sure I believed it. It felt like everything I’d worked so hard for over the past four years was slipping through my fingertips. And instead of doing what I usually do when I suspect things are sliding towards the shitter, this time I just shut out the world. I read so many books. I stopped writing. I devoted countless hours of my precious life to marathon watching Orange is the New Black.
Scenes from my life on the couch
I’ve been going through this book submission process and it is one of the most challenging things I have experienced. Basically, you offer up your dream at the feet of an editor and then said editor kicks it to the curb like a stray dog. Rejection is a bitch, even if someone throws you a bone while you’re whimpering in the street. I have learned a lot about growing a thick skin, about how to keep an open heart even when the bombs are dropping.
I had a disappointment a few weeks ago. I cried for a solid four hours. And in the days after I couldn’t shake that low feeling that comes from yearning for something I simply couldn’t have. I developed a pounding headache and sat like a lump on the couch with a bag of frozen vegetables on my head. Brian sat beside me and put his hand on my leg. “I’m worried about you,” he said. And I was kind of worried about myself, too.
I am so rarely like that. Really, it is not my style. Usually when I feel defeated I throw myself into the cause at double strength. It takes a lot to knock me. And I think that’s why I felt so confused by the whole thing. Why couldn’t I just pick myself back up? Why couldn’t I see that there would be other chances?
I moped through the weekend. And then on Monday I told myself I had to pull my head out of my ass. I took out my journal and I made a list. I needed to work, even if the work felt pointless. I needed to connect, even if my friends all live hundreds or thousands of miles away. I needed to realign my priorities. I needed to remember that not all the days are sunny.
So I went upstairs to meditate, to see if I couldn’t clear my mind enough to receive that message from God/the Universe/whateveryouwanttocallit.
I lit my candle. I set my timer. I stared at the flame. I followed my breath. I tried to clear my mind. And after awhile I settled. I felt calmer.
My meditation space
But, you know, God didn’t speak to me. God didn’t say, Kim, it will all work out. The flame of my candle didn’t suddenly extinguish. The house didn’t shake. The clouds didn’t even part from the sun.
But then I checked my email. There at the top of my inbox was a message titled ‘Adventure.’ It was from one of the readers of this blog and it’d come in while I was staring at the candle. She wrote that she was sitting in her office and for some reason she thought of me. Then she thought of one of her favorite quotes from The Hobbit when Bilbo is so pleased at how the trip is going at the start. Then the scene changes with one sentence, “But adventure is not all pony riding in May.”
I read her email and smiled. And then I read it again and it was like the veneer around my heart cracked open. I sat back against my bed and cried body-wracking sobs. I cried until I was completely drained. And then I sat there like a zombie, I don’t even know for how long. I could not pull myself up off of that floor.
Because if that wasn’t the message I needed to hear then I don’t know what is.
I have not thought to call this process an adventure. I have called it challenging. I have called it torture. But adventure? No way. And yet, it is an adventure, isn’t it? It isn’t the pony ride in May part of the adventure, it’s maybe the stumbling through the snowstorm in the depths of February with frostbite part, but I’m still on the road nonetheless.
And storms don’t last forever. The temperatures warm, the snow begins to melt and suddenly, like a miracle, the world comes alive again. That’s the way the world works. We just have to endure the freeze to appreciate the warmth that follows.