A few years ago – when closeness and touch were normal behaviour at least for me – I was at an enquiry workshop. Eighteen of us, in small groups, approached some of life’s deep existential problems, and rather than trying to solve them, we were invited to just notice. To notice how our anxieties about Stuff were making themselves known to us – in our bodily sensations, in our emotions, in the thoughts that were bubbling up.
Just sitting with these strong feelings of stress – and alternatively strong experiences of pleasure, contentment, peace – and letting them subside in their own time. As these things do.
Owning our experiences, in the present moment, without making it wrong – or right.
When we were all sitting in a plenary circle at one point, my friend (sitting next to me) was clearly processing some strong stuff. The leader suggested she stand up and pace around our circle. As she did so, passing close to me as she strode, I instinctively put out a hand as a gesture of solidarity, affection and concern for her distress.
The teacher – a gentle, mild-mannered woman – fiercely barked out a warning to me that I’ll not want to forget (though often I do):
“Kathy, don’t rescue!”
So that’s my theme today, rescuing (or- more broadly – saving, which has more senses that just “rescuing”).
As in, saving milk bottle tops (that dates me to pre 1980s…), saving the whale (ditto), SOS – “save our souls”, saving a draft (as I mustn’t forget to do as I type …)
Make a list – or a brain scatter – of all the things you or we, or someone, or Someone, could save:
Save the …
“Salva me!” – as in, the liturgy of the Mass of the Roman Catholic church
This is not an exam nor is it a competiton.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t come easily. Give yourself time, dropping down in a relaxed way to let your heart start free-associating with word, ideas, memories, phrases, slogans, snatches of imagined conversations including any of these, as nouns, adjectives, verbs, exclamations ..
save … saving … saved … save… savings… saver … saviour …
Carry on for several pages of scribble and jottery …
[Let yourself get carried away beyond the phrases. Do they want to turn into sentences, paragraphs or even stories?]
… until you are saved by the bell
Now read back over what you have written, and just notice, when any of the phrases or sentences have roused strong emotion in you, pleasant or unpleasant. Are these feelings accompanied by particular sensations in your body? Where? Just notice, then relax any tension, and let it go.
And then read this poem, ‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver.
(I apologise that the type-setting of my version is not true to the author’s layout. It’s getting late and I am up against a self-imposed deadline – to send out this lifeline.)
Read it out loud if you can, or at least “out loud in your imagination”.
I think it’s a great poem, and I know it has helped and inspired many people at pressure points in their life. And certainly in mine.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy was terrible
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.
by Mary Oliver (1935-2019), from Dreamwork, 1986
Scanning through the poem once again, select ar random between four and eight words (or phrases) that speak particularly to you.
Write them down in your Thoughtbook, along with any other jottings that arrive through your moving pen.
Using all, some, or even none of these phrases, you know what you have to do. …
Do you have an affirmation of your own, that has emerged during your BrainDumping and Golden Threadworking today? Please share it with us.
Please share it with yourself too! Why not script it onto a piece of card or stiff paper and post it somewhere prominent, or even write it on your mirror, your wall, your hand …
Today I am grateful for
And what is the opposite of ‘saving’?
Rather, what might its many opposites be?
Let’s leave that for another time… saving it for later.