on spoons and duvets
Today I want to talk about the breathing of seemingly inanimate things. I also want to talk about grieving. To preface this sharing, I’d like to acknowledge that loss is a sensitive and complicated subject. I understand that this topic is difficult for some so please be sensitive to your personal boundaries if you are not in the headspace nor have the capacity to follow these words right now. Please tread through them slowly and only fall into them if and when you see fit. I also find it important to stress that I'm still learning how to navigate through grief myself, and that my feelings towards it are in constant motion. That said, the more I experience and move through grief, the more I feel it is important to speak about it and to allow space for it within our daily lives.
We fall into patterns of familiarity, and it’s easy to lose sight of when certain practices become habitual. A few years ago, I fell into the deepest grief I have experienced to date. It hit instantly and felt like a virus, permeating every corner of my being and leaving me nowhere to hide. It was at this point when I began to question how and why I was unable to have any separation from grief, and was fearful that this could be my new normal. While I know that the severity of what triggers grief is why it is all encompassing, it was at this point when I began to recognise both the importance, and lack of balance that I had in my life. Grieving instilled in me that life is a process of adjustments wherein we are in control of some, but not others. From years of art school and arts working, I feel as though I’ve been conditioned to always be curious and critical. This way of thinking and being occupies my headspace in a beautiful but also occasionally invasive way. I caught myself over-analyzing my grief rather than letting myself grieve, looking outwards instead of in. Since then, I've been actively making efforts to draw more boundaries in my life. Through this particular time of grieving, I came to realise that living without boundaries often leads to loneliness. I mean this in the sense that having no division can often remove you from being present in any given relationship. I used to think that anything less is a loss, but through grieving, I learned that sometimes there is something to be gained through loss: that there's is a courage in learning to let go though our hearts still remember. Grief humbled me, and I learned how not only how to ask for, but how to accept support. I learned how to take accountability of my emotional wellbeing, as well as the importance of acknowledging all of its possible structures before jumping to conclusions.
I came to the point in grieving where I was still. This was beyond the feeling of numbness but before the feeling of peace. I kind of felt like I was holding my breath while laying on a water bed.
I think it’s difficult to change the way we think, talk and act through our emotions if we are not willing to change the language we surround them with. The lines are often blurred between our personal and public experiences; there's a strong tension between feeling and action. I’m learning that grief encompasses a myriad of complex and often conflicting feelings. I honestly don’t know if it ever fully stops, but perhaps rather our experience with it just changes over time. At the peak of this particular grief, a large part of me felt solstice in pain and guilt - a twisted acknowledgement that this relationship was and still is as significant as I knew it to be. But today, my feelings have shifted, mostly being filled with nostalgia and gratitude. A spoon of pistachio gelato is now a welcomed reminder of this respective loss. I can momentarily be brought back to long walks at Cherry Beach at dusk, catching up over the cheeky contraband, and feeling safe and supported. With time and trust, I've grown to know this grief as another relationship in my life. It comes in waves, revisiting me at both welcomed and inconvenient times, and I have a responsibility to care for and support those feelings to the best of my ability within my own boundaries.
I'm becoming more aware of my immediate surroundings the more that I am making active efforts to be present and allowing myself to let go without guilt. I’ve begun to notice how the springs in my bed give way to me as I turn over, sensing their soft inhale and exhale as I shift under my duvet, their lung-like movements beneath me; a stationary body of sorts. My feelings are fluid on what constitutes living and non-living. I strongly believe that a lot of it is about perspective, which makes me wonder if we only acknowledge grief through the loss of living things. Perhaps some things are more anonymous than they are inanimate though, that being that they just aren’t intimately familiar to us yet, but could be. I also often wonder if grieving over seemingly smaller things devalues the significance of more major losses. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself again.
Today I ask you to think about what is. What is around you, supporting you, nourishing you, or hurting you? What is present? How do you feel? It's habitual to jump to 'what if' rather than overcoming the hurdles and embracing 'what is'. I encourage us all to take a moment to look around and notice the lives and loves of all things living and non-living that enable us to existence, that challenge us, that remind us of our strength and value, and that rely on us in return. There is strength to gain in finding the courage to face the present and ask it for what you need. I invite you to soften your eyes and listen to the breathing of the support that's holding you as you move yourself through the near present. This week, I encourage us all to be open to being more present, allowing ourselves to shift internally at the pace you best feel fits.
Love and light,