If you tremble, tremble
Dispatch #3: "This is the peace that you cannot buy"
Friend, this dispatch is going to be centered around how I personally coped with this shattering June. I felt some of the largest, heaviest emotions I have felt in decades. If this was also your experience, or if you’re just looking for some outlets for self-soothing, I’m writing this for you.
I’d like to begin with a brief mix:
Siri, play Remi Wolf.
It’s been a hell of a month. I don’t know how else to say this: I need bass tucked tight in my ears, shaking me (hi, Remi). I need a Beatles-esque marching song, something light & airy to (somehow) ground me (thank you, Clairo.) I need the message & push & prayer at 1 minute 41 seconds of Tems’ “Free Mind,” which I first spotted in a gorgeous dance video shared on Adrienne Maree Brown’s Insta (last slide). Please, play something palpably dykey + disco-thick + anthemic (bless you, MUNA).
I’ve been hurting. On the national level. On a personal level. I’ve upped my therapy to 3X a week. I’ve had moments where nothing can distract me – food, TV, nothing works.
When nothing can distract me, when the ache is so large there is nothing but it in the frame, I find that I have to bury myself in the pain in order to move through it, un-cocoon, & emerge as more than an emergency.
In brief respites where I am able to be held by something other than the urgency of my pain pouring through, music has really held me. Filling my ears, it floods my whole body; I (literally) resonate, something peaceful urgently swells inside me. I know you know the feeling. Sometimes medicine, like rain, comes best through a tattered & open roof. The sky-wild open roof of a song.
Indeed, I spent some quality time with my own guitar this week & a song came through me; you’ll find me playing it here. Thanks for listening.
So there’s been music, that selfless friend. And when I can read, it’s been in tiny patches – quotes to be exact. I found a quote book called SUNBEAMS in one of my neighborhood’s “free book mailboxes” (so cute); it’s a collection of quotes from a magazine I’ve been reading since I was 16 called The Sun. Did I find the book, or did the book find me? I think there’s something physics-defying about thinking it chose me from its perch in the purple mailbox. As if it intuited me as a prime reader. Lifelong fan that I am of The Sun. Of quotes (been collecting them since I was 10). Of brief nectar that won’t make my already dissociating head spin.
Oh, Whitman. How dare you put such ephemeral artistic striving into such startling terms, vying to bring us back into “the costless, average, divine, original concrete.” Whew!
Here are some of my other favorites from SUNBEAMS:
The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography. – Federico Fellini
Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me. – Sigmund Freud
Who has not sat before his own heart’s curtain? It lifts: and the scenery is falling apart. – Rainer Marie Rilke
Whatever the next thing is I write, it’s got to be more naked than the last. – Harold Pinter
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine
Enlightened space, the place of unconditional love, cannot be achieved until and unless one is willing to be comfortable with paradox & confusion. – Ralph Walker
To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish. – Yiddish proverb
Music. Quotes. What else has been nourishing me in haunted hours? In a laaaaate night internet search (admittedly, “how to deal with dread”), I came across Dr. Claire Weekes. Have you heard of her? I was shocked that I hadn’t. Weekes was an Australian general practitioner who was an absolute visionary when it came to panic disorder & was nominated for a Nobel Prize. Her first book, Self Help for Your Nerves, has been translated into 14 languages. I spent more than a few nights this week lying in bed, AirPods in, listening to her advice. Though some of the language is dated, I’m astounded at her compassion, insight & prescience. Her passion & belief translates instantaneously; the science follows. I found myself not only comforted, but resourced.
Weekes’ primary method, a standard today in panic treatment is four-part: face the fear, accept the feeling of panic, float through it (this specifically isn’t about bracing oneself, but about relaxing), & allow time to pass. If you want a more succinct maxim to put over your desk or on the bathroom mirror, this is her 6-word mantra:
face, accept, float, let time pass
“Don’t try to hold onto yourself. Once more, have the courage to let go…
If you tremble, tremble! Trembling won’t hurt you! If your legs feel weak, let them feel weak, they’re still good legs to use! They’ll still get you there, if you give them the chance…
Don’t be bluffed by a feeling. Don’t add ‘oh my goodness’ to any new strange feeling you may experience…Accept any new feeling that comes!”
– Claire Weekes
It is brilliant to find oneself suddenly in the company of a giant-hearted elder. This is what I talked about last month, as I spiraled us through the cosmos that was Etel Adnan & her quiet, rigorous, colorblasting work. & incidentally, I’m led to that water again. The water of giant-heartedness, of earned-assuredness, of respect for mystery - it is so often found (but not always heeded) in our elders.
Music. Quotes. Therapy. Claire Weekes. Those have been monumental in keeping my heart open, steady, willing.
& too, a new story of human kindness, human risk, of love. Ever since I heard this story, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The surveillance video shows bystanders running to see what happened; but only the 17-year old Anthony Zhongor actually jumped in to help the young woman inside the vehicle.
With the poise of a Bodhisattva, Zohnger says, “It doesn’t matter who it was. They were suffering. I couldn’t watch anybody suffering in front of me.”
Lastly, friends, I feel excitement to be in community again. I’m delighted to be embarking on the 21st session of In Surreal Life this August. Registration has officially opened! & Check out that roster?! Kemi Alabi is a force of nature (& an ISL alum!) Raymond Antrobus has immense power on the page & such heart, too. Angel Nafis is, well, Angel Nafis. Unduplicatable. A shelter & a flame.
If you’re like me & want to spend the close of summer in the company of 49 other amazing writers from across the globe for a full month of prompts, community, joy & sharing, sign up today! Stay updated on our Instagram about events, community news & for bursts of inspiration.
What has been nourishing you? Any music you’d like to share? Or quotes? Leave us a slice of your coping mechanisms & heart-strengthening practices in the comments. I always want to know what’s steadying your sail, even as the winds pick up.
I’m rooting for you.
With ample maple syrup,