It’s been a hard day. A challenging conversation with a friend. The truth I am trying to express gets garbled and gunked in word-sludge, my head bangs against a filmy communication barrier. I miss the call I am waiting for. What’s left in the fridge is mismatched. My gut pouts and kicks the random snacks around. I need to reserve space for a workshop and nothing is coming through. I can’t seem to get all those things done that need to be done, and it’s been raining all week and I am * just * so * frustrated!! That’s it,
I grab my keys and put on my shoes, I’m going for a walk. The change in scenery, the fresh air, the daylight penetrating my retinas, and the effortless way my body falls into rhythm immediately balm my crackling soul. I massage the earth as I play her drum with my feet: bom, bom bom, bom. I breathe deeply the air into my lungs, the vivid greens and curls and contrasts into my eyes, the atmospheric sounds into my ears. I exhale waves of pent up tension out, out, out. Taking a walk is one of my favorite go-to ways to reset. I reinhabit my body and the outside world, and my state shifts.
Today I am really churning, though, still stuck on the botched conversation and all the frustrations of the clunky morning. My brain sifts its own murky soup in repetitive rakes for solutions to all the things. A flicker of hope bubbles up with the thought of another potential carpooler to try, and I pull my phone from my pocket to text him, and – ARG! – Something is weird with my phone and it’s not working! Bubbles burst, dashed upon the hard concrete, this is the last straw, I hear myself growl aloud, “Nothing is working!!!”
I stop and wallow in it for a minute. Nothing is working. I let it in and let myself feel totally sorry for myself. It is a small, insular, and shadowy shape just a bit smaller than my actual body, so I need to draw in a bit tighter to really feel it: eyes closed, lower lip pushed up in a frown, arms and shoulders curled around my tender heart in a dense and protective cloak. Nothing is working.
I allow myself to feel the heavy, end of the rope, extremity of this state/ment. From this holed-up place a little piece of me pops one eye open and pokes its head up to peek: “Really? Nothing?” I uncurl my neck, b i g b r e a t h . Huh. Well, my lungs are working. I slowly look up, and around. Green is still working. The beech trees continue to stand tall and upright, the live oaks still grow their crazy mess of branches in twists and tangles. Their roots anchor them perfectly. My feet are working, I notice as I step back into the beat of the walk. And my knees – and knees are so prone to twisting! How amazing that my knees are working! I feel my dazzling sense of wonder pick up the pace as I notice more and more things that are working. I list leaves, organs, friendships, cellular processes, houses, hips, emotions, laughter, tons of things all up in perfect working order. It is so wonderful, this world in which some things work!
This experience stays with me: I can still feel the sharp brilliance of the sky’s light creasing the corners of my eyes, can still see the Japanese maple leaves shimmying joyously for no one, can still feel the pulse of my feet in my heart spilling up into a smile as I realize how lovely it all is. I want to bring this into regular practice. Not to deny the things that are difficult or asking for attention: I still had to coordinate the workshop, address the communication break down with compassion, and deal with “life.” But to bring bounce and balance into a stymied game of teeter-totter can revolutionize the way we receive and approach the whole mixed bag of the day. So when I find myself thinking in an extreme zero-sum mindset (“nothing is working,” “I can’t get anything right,” “nobody likes me”) I am going to practice taking a breath to notice all the evidence to the contrary.
Sasha Wright, LCSW
I provide psychotherapy in the Bay Area. My holistic orientation embraces the body, mind, and spirit as intertwined aspects of being. My work focuses on seeking resilience and weaving sustainably vibrant lives, and is infused by my own practices in dance, mindfulness, creative arts, earth based spirituality, and spending time in nature. I write to share ideas, inspire embodiment, and support wellbeing. Enjoy!
Sasha Wright is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW #70802) providing therapy in the San Francisco Bay Area, and sees clients in Berkeley & Oakland.