I’ll Feel My Way Through Life Like Braille.
We moved. Or more accurately, we are in the process of moving. A process that feels like it will be an eternity.
We currently live in a house of cardboard boxes within the frame of our current home we’re moving into. I move, frantically between unfamiliar kitchen drawers while whatever I’m cooking begins to burn on the stovetop I haven’t yet mastered. I have told my partner more times than normal about how “living in chaos makes me feel crazy and chaotic.” Currently, I am at the epicenter of the mayhem.
In the last month, I’ve had or been close to having more panic attacks than I’ve ever had in my life. Then, we moved more boxes in. More boxes full of things that have to be sorted, then find new appropriate homes for, and then baby-proof. And my mind just kind of broke. It stopped hitting the panic button because the panic button was too worn out or maybe there were boxes covering that too.
I didn’t become okay with the chaos as much as I succumbed.
Succumb (verb): fail to resist pressure, temptation, or some other negative force
Yes, I have succumbed to the negative force of chaos around me. It’s sort of liberating in a “I don’t know if I don’t care because I am depressed or because I have evolved in some aspect of my consciousness to not care” kind of way.
There’s a saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” This feels like truth, but the natural habit of sweating things comes so easy for me. If there is nothing I can do to control_____ (fill in the blank), then what is the point in doing anything? See, every small thing leads to bigger questions. Everything leads back to death and our relationship with what happens after. Free will or destiny.
Ultimately, the question that our experience of life grapples with daily. When to sweat it and do something, when to not sweat it and do nothing. And then there are those middle-of-the-road people who will say, “Sweat a little, just maybe around the hairline, and do something small, like, with minimal effort.” Well, this just never made much sense to me.
How can it be both?
The presence of one truth seems to obliterate the possibility of the other. If it’s free will and destiny, then how much is the free will? How much effort is needed? How much gas should I give? If it’s destiny, then how is it not all destiny? Why would my effort matter at all if everything is already scripted?
There’s people on either side, and even those straddling both sides, that have the answer. But if there was one answer, why wouldn’t it fit us all? There certainly isn’t one religion. So does that mean there are multiple truths?
Multiple realities existing simultaneously, and in one there is free will and in another there is none and then in another maybe someone can choose whether they prefer almond butter or peanut butter and the course of that choice will affect their entire day and inform their entire life like the butterfly effect, but then there is no choice for that same person when it comes to how they see the color blue, the way they fall in love, the way they fall out of it?
It must be nice to know the answer, to feel like you really know. Whether it’s true or not, it doesn’t matter because in the conscious mind, some people just know.
And they live their life out of that grounded determination that this is the truth and this is why x + y = z. And they don’t second or third or 100th-guess things and spend time lost in a labyrinth of the mind and possibilities that may or may not exist.
I imagine these people live more simplified, straightforward lives, and probably feel sorry or pray for people like myself who live in what sometimes feels like a swamp compared to a manicured lawn.
But then, I also wouldn’t live with the fascination of a child. The willingness to not know, that lies on either side of the frustration of not knowing. I would have to give up the inner voice with
an excited longing, the part that feels like it’s always waiting for Christmas morning. I’d have to give up humility.
There is something about being beaten down by life, and in particular the things not going to plan because they should, that really skins you of layers of yourself, making you raw, vulnerable but undeniably beautiful.
I was talking with a friend yesterday of resiliency. How the older I get, the more and also less resilient I feel. On one hand, I feel a sense of trust that everything will work out. Really only because of how many times I’ve wailed “But how can this work out?” And it does, against all odds it does, usually after a night of rest.
Then conversely, I feel less resilient. I feel like the more I know about what can happen, the more I fear and try to orient my life around making sure those things don’t happen. The more people I know who have gotten sick with “really this is a very rare cancer,” or whose children have died tragically, or who were ambling down this one road and life swept them into a hard left without a moment’s notice.
In some ways, I’m watching my back more in life, trusting less, and almost readying myself for catastrophe. It’s almost like I’m already running from what I fear, that when something actually
does happen, I’m too exhausted to pull myself up and keep going. We could probably call this anxiety. Or sum it up as Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real.
My ex would probably chortle, “She’s always scared!” And yes, I do scare easily, I can’t watch horror, I can’t listen to violence in the news without having a visceral reaction. I can’t help but rub my pregnant belly if I don’t feel a kick after some time. I scare. But I also feel. And I don’t really think you can feel great joy without great fear. They exist atop each other, sandwiched together like all things.
Truth is paradox, truth is equal and opposite, truth is love but it is also pain. We are not meant, nor can we really feel, one without the other. So I’ll be the one, for now anyway, who is feeling my way through life like braille, needing it to meet somewhere in my body and not just exist in syntax.
I’ll probably fear the birth of my next baby until I’m holding him or her in my arms, and then in that deluge of love and awe, I’ll feel the sharp edge of fear just on the other side. The fear of knowing that to love deeply is to lose deeply, to have is also the necessity to let go. We must lose it all at some point, and then we lose ourselves.
I will learn to hold the love, and the fear, and the unknowing like birds on my branches. I will continue to grow because it is against my nature not to. I will root myself in the mystery we must live into.
Scarlet Garn is a wife and mother. Her family lives in Kahului, Maui, and she has been here for the last 12 years. She is a freelance writer and also a nutritionist. You can find her on Scarlet’s Letter and Intuitive Wellness. When she isn’t working, or mom-ing, you can most likely find her in the garden or in the kitchen, which are her two happy places. She has been published in Elephant Journal and Rebelle Society.