I’ve really been in a funk lately. I don’t know why. I thought it may have been due to the cold weather but it seemed to persist even after I arrived in warmer climates. In Sydney recently, I attended a meditation class, where the teacher discussed the benefit of “remaining present” every moment of our lives. After the class we talked a bit and I told him about my tendency to get bored with things when they are no longer challenging. He suggested that I could be fully present even when I was in a state of boredom, “Ask yourself, what is boredom. Take it out and examine it. Look at it from every angle. Even boredom can be interesting when we are totally present.” So I decided to just sit with my funk. In it. To let it consume me, if that’s what it wanted. To examine it from every angle.
I asked myself what I was really feeling. I found loneliness in there. I miss my family and friends. I am moving so rapidly from place to place that, while I am meeting some wonderful people and making friends, about the time I get to know someone I have to hit the road again.
I found fear in there. What if I can’t sell my house and I spend all my money on traveling and I end up just as broke as when I arrived on the Outer Banks some 11 years ago?
I found insecurity in there. What am I really doing out here? Shouldn’t I be working at a REAL job, rather than trying to make this writing thing happen?
I found deep seated issues of self-worth that I thought I had worked out long ago – why do I feel unworthy (see the previous emotion) of pursuing that which will bring me joy?
There were no concrete answers. It was more a process of identifying exactly what I was feeling, and being grateful that I COULD feel. It brought me back to the early days of my sobriety, when I didn’t have a clue what I was feeling at any given moment. Some days I had to pull out a litany of descriptions and ask myself, ‘Is this anger I am feeling? No. Is it grief? No. Sorrow? No.’ until I finally came across one that might possibly describe what I was feeling. Sometimes it was three days before I finally realized which emotion I’d been feeling. Then it was like a light bulb going off in my head, ‘Oh, THAT’s what despair feels like.’ I had stuffed my feelings for so long because I didn’t WANT to feel anything – it was too painful.
So, as I sat with my funk, I simply became grateful that I could feel at all. And eventually, the funk broke. I woke up one morning and it was gone. Once again I was smiling and happy. I guess, as the Tao Te Ching says, you cannot know happiness until you have experienced sorrow, you cannot appreciate sunlight until you have been cast into the darkness. In the future I think I will embrace these moods rather than try to fight them off, because I find that, more often than not, something good comes of them – like gratitude.