At the Mercy of the Elements.


{Photo via Pinterest}

{Photo via Pinterest}

By Mercedes Calcano
I lie drifting in a thick fog lost in the in-between of a dreaming and awake state.

Suddenly darkness is displaced by a bright light that blinds me. Completely stunned and dizzy, I summon all my strength to try to stand up. The air is so heavy and oppressive, almost unbreathable. Things slowly start to take shape.

I’m back in my cave, the only place where I feel safe and able to take the dangerous dust and uneasiness of the outside.

Life has become a relentless race of fleeing from one hiding place to another to avoid the poison being spread and contaminating everything, dipping people into a hypnotic state of aggression, denial, apathy or hopelessness.

It is so easy to forget who you are in dark times and so hard to stand tall and not surrender when oblivion and resignation seem a balm against fear and failure.

Yes, this is a creative way to explain how sci-fi-like life can feel sometimes.

When I woke up this morning and found myself in hostile territory, I felt feeble and annoyed. The environment was heavy and stuffy; the angle of the sun this time of  year seems to conspire against me, as the sunlight through the window mercilessly pierces my eyes.

I sit on the bed and look at my room, trying mentally to rearrange it in a way that would prevent being woken up by this laser ray burning me. Perhaps I will have to take cover under the sheets and will melt… no way!

I look outside my window and frustration starts to build up. The beautiful trees that used to sooth my spirit aren’t there anymore; instead, a faded and dirty wall surrounding a neglected backyard serves as a screen for the misery and hopelessness in my soul. I go downstairs to the kitchen.

The mood here is so filled with anxieties and anger that the little resilience I still have, vanishes. Tales of lack and chaos; endless lists of the things impossible to find in stores. Today we enjoy long lines just to buy shampoo (there hasn’t been any for weeks).

A cold spur runs up my back and the weight of reality bends me.

Coffee has been always a friend I can trust. I start my morning ritual by filling up a cup with a homemade foamy latte (thank heaven my last adventure to the grocery store rendered me a succulent booty — milk) and go back to bed to spill my guts on paper and find some comfort.

The first thought that comes to mind is:

I need to leave.

I cannot start every day with this overwhelming lack of meaning and enthusiasm, having to use all my strength to make it productive.

And then it strikes me like a lightning bolt.

I am always reacting to things! In good or bad ways, but reacting to a stimulus — I am a mouse!

A weird half-laugh, half-cry bursts and I imagine myself in the Skinner box* running for food on all fours.

Perhaps being here is a peak performance workshop in acceptance; not of the situation itself but myself. I live in a Communist country. I managed to escape and enjoy four years of freedom until immigration brought me back.

But this is not a tale of being a citizen of nowhere; this is about how my quest for belonging and owning my life has set a path to personal growth that gets overlooked when I allow myself to drown in the day-to-day challenges.

I the midst of my misery, I remember a phrase my dear mentor and friend Ali Rodriguez always says,

“Choose love over fear.”

What is that supposed to mean? How do I do that?

I sit in silence for a bit and allow my mind to drift and search for the answer in the library of self-help books and experience I have accumulated. I am not sure if it happens to you, or if it is how I am wired, but instead of  answers I get a chain of questions that sometimes drives me crazy.

The truth is that when I overcome the habit of feeling downcast or the fear to fail, I do get answers; nevertheless, they have a tendency to reveal their value and effectiveness in a different time span that the one I am willing to wait for.

What can I do that is different? How can I feel a little better?

I can think about those things I want to be and look for ways to feel empowered. I can try to imagine what it would look like to focus on the things I want, and to love myself instead of judging and belittling the person I am because I feel vulnerable and lost.

I can allow myself to take a very small step and even fail horribly instead of setting a very high standard response that I am not prepared to give now.

This is how I come to realize what acceptance is.

I haven’t been writing or sharing because I feel empty of answers. In this time and space, my life is a very scary crossroad. Although I wish with all my heart I could cast a spell to change things, that is not the way it is.

Acceptance is to share my downs with the same pride and hope that I share with others my ups and more positive findings. Today I accept myself as an ongoing process; I acknowledge my fragility and see beauty in it.

It worked!

I got creative, wrote, and found myself smiling!

Perhaps I am still a mouse, but I look more like Stuart Little than a lab mouse.

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” ~ C.G. Jung

 What does acceptance look like for you?

** Frederic Skinner took the notion of conditioned reflexes developed by Ivan Pavlov and applied it to the study of behavior; he was especially interested in stimulus-response reactions of humans to various situations, and experimented with pigeons and rats to develop his theories.


MercedesCalcanoMercedes Calcano is a time traveler, a long-life learner and adventurer, in love with the magic of life and a firm believer in the alchemy of art. She is passionate about bringing the extraordinary into ordinary life and easing the way for others to allow possibilities to shape their experiences. Mercedes wants to inspire others to unveil the artist within and bring mastery and purpose to life. She sees beauty and creativity as a path to remember the poetry of being human. Mercedes is a professional musician and visual artist and the founder of ARTLeads-U, an art-based program focused in developing authentic leadership through a deep and joyful understanding of our natural creative abilities and life calling. Her blog Simply Drawing Life explores art and life as truthful and magic mirrors of the inner and outer Universe and its potentiality. You can contact her via her website or LinkedIn.

– Accepted – 


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