I have spiritual blue balls.
I feel so full of energy, love, and power and yet I don’t know where to put, how to direct and share it. It’s building and building and building, yet no release. Because I don’t have a container, a place where it belongs.
It’s very frustrating. I feel this incredible longing to use my power for service, and with no receptacle, I start to shut myself down because it’s too painful to bear. Like Marianne Williamson has reflected:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Because with this power comes a yearning. To use it.
And like with any blue balls situation, the options for relief are either release or to shut down the desire.
Rabbi Naomi Levy explores this need for a “vehicle” in her book Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul. “There is a Hasidic teaching I once studied that says the key to fulfilling your mission is striking a balance between fire and the container that allows the fire to stay burning….The container is a lot less sexy than the fire itself. It’s the vessel you must create and maintain to keep the fire burning”.
Because how can energy manifest itself, if not with structure? Even our beautiful divine spirits have chosen to live in human body form. Energy is like fire, as Levy explores, but it’s also like H20. It can exist in gas, liquid or solid form. If we are too much gas, we are not seen, we can’t be held. If we are too solid, we can’t move, we can’t be flexible. If we are like water, we are a force to be reckoned with: gentle, powerful, movable. But liquids need containers to hold their form.
I have, like many of us, a love/hate relationship with structure. If my time is too structured, if I always have to be some place, at some time, if I don’t have time to stare idly out the window, or lie on my back on the kitchen floor and cry (oddly soothing), I feel like I am being strangulated. I can’t take full breaths, I imagine escape, and my connection to Spirit and Mystery starts to wane. Laurie Brown, of the dearly departed CBC show The Signal, once talked about watching the light pass through your house during the day. How it changes as the sun progresses through the windows. She remarked that most people can only observe this passage on the weekends, otherwise they are away from home all day long. How lucky am I that I often have that opportunity. The thought of being torn away from that experience 5 days a week makes me anxious.
However, the other extreme is difficult too. I am with so little structure right now. Things have really shifted with my kids in the past few months. For many reasons, including their increased independence and desire (and ability) to get to school and their activities on their own, they are not needing me in the same ways. For so many years, my life revolved around my kids and the custody and school schedule determined my schedule. Not so much anymore. My work, both my “official work” and my “self employment work” is very flexible. Both can get done at home, at 3 am, or 2 in the afternoon. I do drop in exercise classes. Oreo is happy to be walked at any time of the day. I started volunteering with the safe ride program, Ikwe, and I can drive whenever works best. I’m fortunate and grateful to have that kind of flexibility, to be able to be the architect of my own days.
But it’s also a burden to bear. I wake up in the morning and sometimes the day, with its many to-dos but no certain path to get there, looms uncertain and heavy. I don’t know where or how to begin. Lack of structure can also be suffocating. Some days I just spin around my own axis, chasing my own tail, not really getting anything done– not really working, not really resting, not really having fun, not really tackling chores–because I have no weight to keep me grounded. That old joke: Need something to get done? Give it to a busy person to do.
The solution seems pretty simple: Just create a routine. Fill my days. Do things. Ah yes, just do it. Doesn’t work for me. There are two challenges to that seemingly simple solution. 1. Existential angst and 2. Internal rebellion. Lately, my need for meaning and purpose has become even more relentless and I cannot do things for the sake of doing them. Everything must connect to some meaning. I’m not saying it always needs to be profound–laundry, cleaning the toilet, and walking the dog aren’t always the most profound or profane activities but they make sense. They have meaning. The internal rebel recognizes the existential absurdity of making a schedule for myself. How arbitrary. I can see why people turn to God, or bosses or partners, or other external forces to tell them what to do. Who am I to come up with a plan for myself? How can it matter if it is only for me?
At the heart of it is some deep sadness, grief and incredibility that here I am, well into my adulthood, a community minded person, not a sociopath or a wallflower but a fairly normal person with normal longings for connection, and yet I live with an exceeding amount of autonomy. Aren’t my actions needed by others? Doesn’t anyone else need me to be somewhere at some time? Am I the only one invested in my schedule?
What I am lamenting is the loss of the “tribe”. Although I am grateful for the autonomy and independence I get to enjoy, and recognize that as a woman it’s a fairly recent privilege, I long to belong to others. This freedom and impending isolation is both the gift and the curse of living alone. As Sebastian Junger recognizes in his powerful book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, “And as society modernized, people found themselves able to live independently from any communal group. A person…can for the first time in history, go through an entire day–or an entire life–mostly encountering complete strangers. They can be surrounded by others and yet feel deeply, dangerously alone”.
Although it’s reassuring to know that these powerful structural forces contribute to my flailing, that it’s probably not just a me problem, recreating tribal ways of living is probably not going to happen anytime soon. So, in the meantime, yes, it’s clear that I need some kind of “kind structure”. I have started to play with options, including daily meditation, more clearly demarcated “work” times, learning to pay attention to my internal cues about when I need to move, eat, rest, dream, etc. However, I can also remind myself that my worth is not related to my production. Of course, I want to use my time and energy, but I can be driven by desire rather than by fear. I can unhinge from the panic that simmers underneath the surface of my freedom that perhaps it means that I don’t matter.
“Humans often think that they are here to create things. Even empires. Even movements. Even manifested things. And while all that is certainly part of this spiritually based exploration into the expansion of who you are, what you really are the creator of is You… Your can’t get off your path. You’re still becoming. You can’t get it wrong. All that is relevant is your relationship with the powerful becoming which you cannot stop no matter how hard you think you could try.”–Abraham Hicks