Look, we’re animals. We’re also human beings but we’re animals first, and we have beastly traits. First and foremost among these is the drive to survive. So survival can sometime mean stuffing your feelings. If one is in a situation where to feel what is happening to you would be lethal, would cause your psyche to crash, then you learn to numb out. This is very useful within the circumstance. I suspect hostages and inmates understand this very well. (BTW, loving the company I keep, here. Shit.)
But, setting aside the intellectual analysis, the compassion, and the spiritual grace with which one copes with the situation, what do you do with the goddamned energy of it all? From a purely physics perspective, what the hell do you do with the volume of shit that has been shoved down your throat for a decade or more? I don't want to pay it forward. What feat of alchemy must one perform to transmogrify it to something useful? Or at least not harmful? And how do you avoid hurting someone else in the process?!?!?
You know, a 90 minute yoga class in a scorchingly hot room takes the edge off. Wine afterwards permits sleep. Punishing runs, swims and 6 hour bike rides through a
summer day can hold the shit at bay for awhile…but it is still there. It is waiting for the briefest opening. Try to feel something other than utter contempt for the world in general and men in particular and here comes the landslide of crap. Georgia
I cannot stop a landslide. I cannot. So I guess I’ll just sit and watch it. When I was a kid I used to go into the ocean for hours at a time. I secretly loved the wildness of it, the feeling of losing control. I found solace in getting tumbled by a wave, over and over, no different than the sand, seaweed and shells that got kicked up from the ocean’s floor. Able to hold my breath for a long time, I would enjoy the specter of being inside a crashing wave. I’d open my eyes and watch the foam and froth all around me, listen to the primordial sounds of the sea as I tumbled, tumbled and eventually resurfaced in the sunshine and laughter of the other beachgoers.
Similarly, Pema advises sitting with it. Not moving away from the feeling. She promises that it will eventually burn itself out. I don’t have any choice. It is what I must do, but I am a coward and I must confess to wondering: will it incinerate me first? Frankly, self-immolation is preferable to the alternative.