Existential Funk

I am, in general, an early riser upbeat kinda person, greeting each day with anticipation budding. Challenging as it’s been lately, I take in the daily distress of world news and then focus on what is possible in my community, my family, my home, myself. Don’t get me wrong. Each and every day I feel the hovering demons of doubt and despair move in on me. I whisper “hello again” and invite them to slither on into the back seat. Mostly they obey.

Despite the obvious fact that all is going reasonably well in my life—health and abundance and good people and fulfilling work—the demons nudged me out of the driver’s seat a couple weeks ago and took the wheel. We have all been in this place that has zero logical base. I call it Existential Funk. Time passes painfully slow, and the point (if there even is one) feels entirely elusive, when joy is some far off fantasy land, when sleep feels like the only reasonable activity, when….fill in your own blank. Unfortunately (or maybe it was just what I needed) I had tickets to Marjorie Prime, a play at Capital Stage. Afterwards a single line kept the negativity nourished. On her 55th birthday, with his wife in Existential Funk, the husband lamely offers, “Just think, you have another 55 years left to live!” The birthday girl responds with, “You mean I have another 55 years to die.” Lord.

I have never suffered from clinical depression but this current episode invites me to know, albeit ever so briefly, what it must be like to move through each and every moment in a damp fog.   I let the balm of compassion for the many beings out there that live in this space, cradle and soften my heart. Existential Funk is just one feeling in the vast emotional library of the human condition. It is utterly normal and I am curious about what we do when it moves over us. Because one of the qualities that rides along is inertia. Which means we do nothing, and then we just sink deeper.

I am writing from an interesting perspective this morning. The inertia has lifted but I can still feel the funk and the way it is shifting, stubbornly relinquishing it’s lead. And from this momentary point of view, I see how I am slowly, quite haphazardly, corralling three overlapping resources:

BEING: the more I pretend this feeling is not present, the deeper I go. My loyal ever-ready band of distractions do not even offer a temporary fix. O.K. How ‘bout just feeling it? I sense it deep in my core organ body, like quicksand, seductively sticky and draining at the same time. Dense brown and slug-like it wallows, breathing as little as possible. Suspicious, it remains alert enough to dispel any conscious dislodge attempt. It is hunkered down for the duration. I just allow myself to roll with it. It doesn’t kill me.

CONNECTING: and it feels so lonesome in there. As hard as it feels to inflict myself on someone I love…I reach out and share. I allow myself to name it aloud and, of course, responses vary. Though it is truly helpful and I do need to listen, less satisfying are the advice-givers. What I really want is someone to come in and wallow with me, or at least whisper that they know how it feels and have suffered this way, too. And then give me a hug. And that happens.

MOVING: the inertia is magnetically powerful. My hammock, my bed, my recliner, my garden chair just suck me in. Despite this pull, somehow my bare minimum survives. I guess this is the gift of physical pain and years of discipline. My sacred twenty minutes on the mat and matching twenty minutes on the cushion do not go inert. But the life-giving force of whole body rhythmic movement goes dormant for a couple weeks. My teaching schedule keeps me off the dance floor and my stubbornness refuses the alternatives. Four days ago I woke up and knew I was done with that.

We are human. Interestingly enough, practice does not make perfect. It just makes us dreadfully aware of what is going on. And things always change. Somehow we move through. We are all “just bozos on the bus” together.

Being, connecting, moving….love, bella