It is one of those nights when, after retiring for the evening, Attila is snoring in his bed, and I am sitting in the lamp lit living room late into the night, having arisen to deal with my demons, who will not let me sleep.
There is usually something going on that stirs the demons up, brings them roiling and spitting to the surface of my mind. I think it is that it would have been my little brother’s 65th birthday a few days ago. I had found myself suddenly weeping, at first I thought for no reason, then I realized the date and its significance.
Life holds some harsh realities. Time does not heal the wounds these realities inflict, although it does provide increasingly intermittent relief.
This is similar to the concept of the “dark night of the soul”, extolled by Ekhart Tolle:
“It can happen if something happens that you can’t explain away anymore, some disaster which seems to invalidate the meaning that your life had before. Really what has collapsed then is the whole conceptual framework for your life, the meaning that your mind had given it. So that results in a dark place.”
My life has had little continuity. It has been lived in segments that end, usually abruptly, sometimes violently, before another segment slowly develops. The edges aren’t smooth, the transitions do not flow. In my life it is not the conceptual framework that disintegrates, it is the underlying physical framework that collapses, significant betrayals, loss of loved ones, loss of income, death threats, isolation, things that change the context of life. As the context changes, naturally the conceptual framework must evolve.
What it comes down to, on these long dark nights, is that the demons are mine alone, and they and I must face each other from time to time. The “if onlys”, “surely nots”, “what ifs”, and awe at the incredible series of “perfect storms” that have engulfed my journey here on planet earth, they are what visit me in the night.
Tonight’s demon is the one that says I can change the unchangeable, that I can control the uncontrollable. My mind races for hours, trying to find a way out, a solution to the unsolvable, a release from the pain of a particular harsh reality. But that is a futile exercise. If there were solutions I would have found them. Some things in life just suck, and there is nothing you can do to alter them.
Eventually the “there has to be a way” demon and I will stare each other down. It will concede that I am doing all I can, it will allow me to feel the strength in that knowledge, it will allow me to flow around and then beyond what cannot be changed. This occurs with a rush of exhaustion, of self-acceptance, of relief, and then, finally, sleep.
I am not yet there tonight, but I will be.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Date: 1:00 AM EDT Friday 1 September 2017
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Dew point: 4.8°C
Wind: NW 11 km/h
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.”
1918 – 1988