Another year has passed, and for me, it was, at times, a painfully slow roll. It reminded me of a class in college almost 25 years ago. The professor was a mild-mannered, aging hippy, complete with a ponytail tied, not with a rubber band, but a piece of old leather cording. I was a geology major and just as granola as the professor. He was very knowledgeable, and the cadence of the class, stratigraphy, was on par with how long it too for the strata we looked at to have morphed from sand to stone.
The classes and field trips were well-planned and enjoyed by most. (As I am sure, dear reader, you are aware that there are always a few humans who need to complain no matter what.) Anyway, about two weeks into classes, as we were learning about the law of superposition, our quiet, peaceful professor suddenly turned from the chalkboard (yes, there were chalkboards in college; that’s how old I am) and began a rant about his ex-wife, loudly, emphatically with gesticulations and maybe spittle.
Then just as fast as it began, it was over, and he turned back to the chalkboard, continuing the lesson as if the whole diatribe had never happened. Clearly, he was a catastrophist! A uniformitarian would never explode like that!
These outbursts happened randomly in every class I had with this professor. Initially, it was shocking- was he crazy? Were a few screws loose? Over time we adjusted to it, and it became a regular part of his classroom experience.
The effusive eruptions didn’t make him a lousy teacher; on the contrary, it showed depth, a story- more than meets the eye. He wasn’t just an aging hippy teaching a bunch of ungrateful kids. This man had a life, hopes, fears, and dreams. The outbursts were breadcrumbs leading the inquisitive down the path of human experience, just as the eruptions of pain and confusion I encountered this past year led me deeper into the mystery of my deteriorating health.
By following the trail, patterns began to emerge; both with my health and the life of my professor. Allowing a patience to settle over me- I am able to see more clearly into the patterns of detail. By pausing and stepping back, becoming the witness, I can see the forest through the trees, blossoming with awareness.
The shifting moods, subtle yet complex, were easily noticed by anyone paying attention. My professor suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety. The outbursts were his coping mechanisms when not wanting to take meds; a full release of energy- and a prompt return to normal.
Was there a clue here for me? My confusion, tremors and other symptoms had to be breadcrumbs leading me to the path of healing. I only needed the patience to persevere and not play the victim to my heath. With the belief firmly established that healing begins within, I used these random outbursts of bizarre symptoms to discover the patterns.
If the pattern of trees makes a forest then my pattern of symptoms would lead to a diagnosis. So like any good geologist, I got out my field notebook and began sketching out the layers of life that were impacting or being impacted by my symptoms.
It’s amazing that it takes catastrophe to look at the stratigraphy of our lives . Where is the fault? Where have we allowed the pressure to build to the breaking point. Where can we find small moments of release as to not completely shake loose our moorings later?
These insights along the rocky shore of healing has led me towards deeper inner wisdom and a softening of spirit. Patience, it seems, has been born of cleaving layers of sediment crashing through me. What else can you do with tremors, but ride them out, knowing this too shall pass and calm will be restored once again.
And in the calm lies stillness and elucidation; for from the pressure of living comes forth the diamond clarity of truth – all of life is an ebb and flow of pain, joy, suffering and love; leaving traces of each story to become fossilized in memory.
And in the calm, what I discovered classifying my pain and suffering was a pattern of excess and scarcity. It is between these two extremes a balance can be found. Overdoing it, taking on too much leads me down a path of deterioration. Doing too little leads to stagnation and eventually down the same path of deterioration.
However when conditions hover in the sweet spot between the two extremes; this yields a slow yet steady pace, allowing for the unexpected & reveling in its mystique. Set backs are no longer boulders blocking my way, but a chance to meander creatively around my inner space getting a fresh view, creating new neural pathways.
When we can witness our story, layer built upon layer, lessons and meaning emerge from the patterns. We can learn from our past, adjusting our patterns to create a path of fertile soil which holds within it the sediment of our memory, allowing for new growth and experience to ripple through our lives.
Wishing you a peaceful 2023.