Every Escape I’ve Known…

 

I opened the mailbox and pulled out a stack of envelopes. As I thumbed through them before making the short walk back to the house, I saw it. The return address. And I knew.

The contents of the small envelope would wound me.

Deeply.

As the sender has wounded me so many times before.

My breath caught and tears brimmed as I made my way back into the house where I dropped the mail on the kitchen counter, with the exception of one small envelope. Maybe I’m wrong… Maybe it isn’t what I suspect…

I tore the envelop open and pulled out a sheaf of paper. As I scanned it the stab came, straight to my heart, as it has so many times before. Then…

Anger bubbled.

I dropped the note on the counter and hot tears fell. Why does this keep happening? Why do I let it continue to happen?

Anger boiled.

But I didn’t want the anger–because I knew, just beneath its simmering surface was a cauldron filled with pain.

As I turned away from the counter, the refrigerator beckoned. I could eat something. Anything. I could stuff myself so full there’d be no room left for the anger or the pain. I glanced away from the refrigerator to an upper cabinet. I could reach for a wine glass, fill it once, twice, three times. I could drink until my mind and heart would no longer discern the ache.

Every escape I’ve known called my name.

But under the cacophony in my mind, another voice whispered. I strained to hear the question it asked: What does it mean to be mindful now?

I wandered from the kitchen to my office and dropped into the chair at my desk. I rested my hand on the trackpad. One click, then a second, and a hand of Solitaire appeared. I played a few cards before moving my hand off the trackpad.

No.

I wouldn’t succumb. I wouldn’t escape. Not this time.

What does it mean to be mindful when anger stirs? What does it mean to remain present when emotional pain swirls? I considered each question.

It means allowing myself to feel the pain. To experience the pain. To allow the anger to propel me forward as I’ve allowed it to propel the characters in my novels forward.

When I accepted the idea of mindfulness for this year, I anticipated a new awareness. I looked forward to what I might see, hear, experience. I did not consider that accepting the invitation to live in the present would also mean accepting the probability of dealing with pain. But… Dealing with the pain means I’m also presented with the opportunity to uncover festering wounds and rather than averting my gaze as I have so often done, I can choose to really see them, and allow myself to feel their sting.

Wounds left untreated become infected. Perhaps the metaphor is cliche because of its accuracy.

I moved my hand back to the trackpad, clicked, and opened a new document. Through a veil of tears, I stared at the wavering blank page on the screen and then rested my fingers where they are most comfortable, on the keyboard. I let the old wounds lead the way and allowed the infection to drain, through my fingertips, onto the page…

Now, a week later, recalling the moment no longer evokes anger, or even pain. Instead, there is relief. And resolve born of anger. Transformation even. Change wrought through presence. My own. And the Presence which, I’m continuing to learn, meets me in the present, in the moment.

What are you escaping? What does it mean to sit with your pain? To stay present in your anger?

 

Every escape I've known called my name. Click To Tweet What does it mean to be mindful when anger stirs? Click To Tweet What does it mean to remain present when emotional pain swirls? Click To Tweet What are you escaping? Click To Tweet

I’m Paying Atten… Wait, What?


I confess, I’m a bit of a rebel. A quiet, mostly well-behaved rebel, but a rebel nonetheless. I don’t like conforming. Following the crowd. When it seems everyone is doing something…

Like making resolutions at the beginning of a new year.

Or choosing a word for the year.

I want to do something else.

Besides, those resolutions are so…resolute.

So just as I was rolling my eyes at the tide of new year commitments rising in my social media feed last week, a term flowed through my consciousness…

Mindful.

Well, if I was one of those people who chose a word for the year… But I’m not. I waited for the word to ebb, to recede from my awareness. Instead, it lapped, and lapped. And lapped…

So, chagrined, I’m tossing my own word for 2017 in with the sea of others. But that doesn’t mean I’m really conforming, does it? It’s just that, well, in 2016 I wrote a novel about a novelist who is anything but mindful. She’s in the habit of letting the wanderings of her mind ride the current. Going this way, then that.

That’s what we creatives do, right? Flow with the ideas that present themselves.

The problem is that Melanie, my character, lets the current take her out of the current and the lines between her reality and her fiction begin to blur. And she starts missing things. Important things.

But I’m not like that.

I’m mindful of the moment. In the moment. Present.

Except, maybe when I’m…not. Like when my housemate is telling me something, but instead of listening to her I’m thinking about the story I’m writing or the cute boots I saw online today while I was supposed to be writing. Or maybe, mid-conversation, I pick up my phone because an alert dinged, or beeped, or squealed and I might miss something more…important?

But those instances are rare. I think.

It’s odd though… Sometimes, like last night, I sat down to watch the evening news before my housemate arrived home from work. Then after she got home, she asked if I’d mind watching it again—the recorded version. I shrugged. “I don’t mind, but it wasn’t all that interesting.”

When I watched the newscast again, I realized how much I’d missed the first time. Why? Where was my mind? What was I thinking about? Doing? Had I watched it at all?

Maybe I’m more like Melanie than I thought.

Am I alone in my distraction?

Are you mindful? Present to the moment, living in the moment?

If not, maybe you’d like to—sigh—resolve, along with me, to consider what mindfulness means. (Notice I didn’t ask you to resolve to be mindful? Let’s take this one small step at a time.)

I’m thinking of this as an exploration.

An adventure.

If you’d like to join me, you’re welcome to follow along the next several months as I share my discoveries. I sense there’s more going on in the moment than I’ve realized. In fact, as I was writing Home, one of my character’s whispered something I hadn’t thought of before: God meets us in the moment. He is past, present, and future. But we’re bound by time, so He is present in our every moment. Always. And He waits for us to join Him…

What if in my stubbornness or, gulp, arrogance, I’d missed the word that breezed through my mind?

What else might I have missed this coming year?

I’d love to hear from you. What does mindfulness mean to you? What does it look like for you? How are you intentional about being intentional in the moment?

In the months to come, I’ll share some of what I’m learning. I hope you’ll join the conversation by leaving a comment on the posts or following me on social media where the conversation will continue.

Words. For Writers. A monthly newsletter.

  • Authentic
  • Encouraging
  • Informative

Receive my article My Favorite Author Hates My Book when you subscribe.