Time on the Inside…
Well, COVID Day 10. I can’t remember the last time I spent this much time alone, at home, sick enough that all I could really do was rest. Sleep. Repeat. Probably never, never in my life have I spent this kind of time with myself.
In the early days, I was in so much pain with my throat that it was all consuming. Pain is a great motivator, but it is also a great alienator. When I am in pain, especially physical pain like that, I have this tendency to go within. I can’t really talk about it, I don’t want help with it, I just want to be left alone and to grind it out. I am sure everyone has their own way through.
And that is what I am kind of unpacking this week, the lessons from last week, the lessons that are only learned through painful, very painful, stimuluses and coming out the other side.
Here is what I have so far:
I am not a sick person who can juggle other things. When I am really sick, it overshadows everything else, the sickness being the only thing I can see, feel. I give it all of my attention because I believe that somehow, if I let it command me, then it will pass through more quickly. Well, at Day 10 and still sick, that plan didn’t work so well but I know that I could have done nothing differently. I went down hard and with that, all I could do was try to recover.
I have not been lonely during this time on the inside but I can feel it creeping up on me now that I feel better. My current fixation is wanting someone to come sit in my bed with me and watch Netflix. Of course, no one can do that because I am sure I am still contagious but it is a new thought and desire which seems healthy, even if it is not possible.
I learned also that I talk to myself. I mean, like whole conversations, and that these conversations are really with God. I talk to this higher version of myself and that talk really amounts to prayer. That I do it when in pain, scared, lost, sick, or just generally off my usual trajectory. It provides comfort and I am sure makes me look more than a little crazy. To be clear, I did not SEE God last week…just begged for mercy to him a couple of times, and cussed and swore at him in equal measure. However, at no time did I forget that I said to give me the worst so that someone else may be spared. I really hope that happened, ok? Because the COVID gauntlet I have run has been worse than most others I have heard.
I am very grateful for the time I spent with myself this past week. Turning inward, it is usually the last place I want to go…me always being an external turner. But this last week, I had to go within because there simply was no out to turn to. And the time inside was peaceful. Which was good news, I never feel like my interiority is going to be that way. I feel like turning inward will toss me carelessly into a raging tide that pushes me under. But no, this time, I found strength to persevere which made me wonder what would happen if I turned inward more often. So I am going to try it.
I have spent so much of this life, looking for answers to questions that only God could know. I have wasted lots of time pursuing things shiny and material. This time inside has made me realize that if there is peace inside, it really matters almost not at all about the out. My internal condition will always shape the exterior life, weird that it took me so long to realize that.
This seems to be our human condition. We want answers that we can shop, buy, fuck, eat but those are really only questions posed to stop us from ever really examining the quality of our interior life. I see that now. I see that the exterior life is only a reflection of what the interior life has to offer and if one has spent little time there, then how can you live an intentional life that has only been superficially examined?
I have always known that it is an inside job. But I thought that maybe, if I was clever enough, I could avoid the interiority being so reflected in my life. My time inside has let it be known: so it is above, so must it be below. So it matters quite a lot what lies below my surface. And I would be in good stead to spend a little more time cultivating an environment that is supportive of who I want to be.
Sometimes you go inside and find only pain, and other times, want. But sometimes, you go within and you find only love. Trouble is we are always so afraid to look.