My oldest daughter came to visit yesterday. She brought two of her friends. One of them asked if he could use my computer to check his emails. I teasingly told him that he would owe me, and then snapped my fingers and said he could use the computer if he took the trash out to the dumpster when he left. He grinned and agreed. My disability doesn’t allow me to walk too far without pain, so we solved both of our problems and were satisfied.
That isn’t necessarily the case in our daily lives, where the garbage from yesterday can interfere with the experience of today. Feelings can follow us around, draining our energy, taking up mind space, and using thought gymnastics that are needed elsewhere. That’s just plain frustrating. I find that many of my journal pages seem to be brief summaries of the events of the day before, along with short notes about my own thoughts and feelings on those experiences. It is a sorting process and I do it first thing in the morning. Each morning. Sorting this from that, dropping a lot of it on those pages, like taking out the garbage.
I’m not saying that emotions, feelings, are just garbage. They do serve a purpose as a barometer of where we have been, allowing us to take our temperature and thus, clothe ourselves appropriately for the present moment. However, they can also be a troubling distraction in that present moment as I have already said. Carrying around a load of angst over something someone said, or did, may result in lashing out inappropriately at someone who certainly doesn’t deserve the lashing. And the weight of that angst, and the added guilt for misappropriated feelings, can get very heavy, very fast.
When we write out those feelings, even briefly, we assign them to a place of containment, a proper receptacle that can and will hold them until we decide how and when we choose to deal with them. And trust me on this one, if they are important, they will return themselves to our attention again and again. They will make themselves known no matter how much we may try to avoid them. And that too, is part of the sorting process, I mentioned earlier. If I find my journal pages repeatedly filled with a certain person, an idea, that just keeps popping up over and over again, I will move to deal with it far more quickly than otherwise. It is literally taking up my space and I want to use that space for other things.
So, what exactly, am I sorting? The trash from genuine inspiration. I really do love to write poetry and much of the poetry I write, comes directly from those journal pages. Many of them are actually Freudian slips of the pen that tickle my inner ear for whatever reason. Some of them are a direct result of that angst I dragged into today from yesterday. They have become even more important since I began writing this blog. The ideas for this writing also come from those journal pages. But, if I didn’t first write them down, they could be, and often are, lost in the course of living my day to day life. Because I have been doing this for many years, its a lot easier to spot the garbage and retain the inspiration.
Let me give you an example. Many years ago, I used an inordinate amount of paper writing about my boss of the current moment. The things he said, did, and the anger I felt over each and every one of those things. One day, as I leafed through those pages, I could see his name jumping out at me in almost every one of them. It finally dawned on me that this was no longer my journal. He, this man who had usurped my time and energy, was taking up squatter’s rights in what I defined as ‘my’ territory. We had been engaged in a silent battle of control for far too long and when I mentioned it to a fellow worker, he agreed and actually told me that we were acting like partners in an abusive marriage. As I paged through my writing, I could physically see that reality. Ugh!
I got busy and within three months had found a new career and quit my job. And yes, I may have done that eventually, somewhere down the road, without the prompting from my own words. But how much longer? How much more time would I have wasted, not to mention pages in the book of my life? I actually shudder at the thought.
That might seem like a drastic example, but how many individuals do you know who spend most of their time complaining about their present circumstances, yet doing nothing to change them because they simply can’t see what is happening to, and in, their own lives. They lack a barometer to help them to clothe themselves appropriately for whatever weather they might encounter. I, personally, would prefer to use my time and energy writing my daily pages than to take a happy pill that simply numbs the symptoms that might allow me to see my own path and the direction I am moving in and toward.
Just think about all the time wasted on guilt feelings of one sort or another. Guilt is not a feeling. It is a fact. We did, or did not, do something wrong. That has nothing to do with feelings, and everything to do with actions. Yet, guilt feelings are perhaps even heavier than angst. Put them on the page. Work through the feeling and resolve it. If you are guilty then find a way to make recompense. If not, tell the feelings to shut up. You can stop writing about them, unless they are comfortable and can be used as an excuse to not engage in some other activity. But all of that is the individual’s choice, unless he/she is unaware that all that tiredness he/she feels is directly related to all those guilt feelings sucked up like an absorbent sponge. And because we live in world that abounds with guilt feelings in every shape, size, and color, one will never run out of material, or have to stand in a line at a soup kitchen to get more.
So yesterday, I got someone else to put out the garbage and he got to use my computer. Fair trade? Not hardly, I also got all these words out of it, another page in my journal, some very real sorting, and another blog under my belt. Hope he got some extras as well.