on feeling pt. 2

What does too much technology feel like?

Too much technology feels like a razor brain in your brain. You drank twice the normal amount of coffee and now you’re crashing. Thoughts jam into each other, pushing and shoving, and you’re not really aware of it, but something in your body feels a lot like lonely.

What does strength feel like?

Strength feels like biking across the city in sleet. You’re freezing. Your legs are ill-used to exercising. And your phone doesn’t do any sort of mapquesting. But somehow you have a sense of the general direction which to go, a sense that eventually your body will bring you home.

What does anxiety feel like?

Anxiety feels like wasting time. It feels like barbed wire. It feels like being lost in a parking garage. Anxiety feels like the other lover in the relationship between you and yourself. It feels like checking your e-mail, facebook and phone dozens of times even though you know that you are not going to get any new messages. It feels like your brain stretched tight, rubber band like, and it’s on the verge of snapping. Anxiety feels like a clenching at the throat and chest. It feels like self-doubt. It feels like wading through sludge. Anxiety feels like wandering around for too long at a grocery store and not being sure what to buy. It feels like profound loneliness.It feels like a fumbling of your fingers, a gurgling of your gut. It feels like a digital clock that beeps every hour. It feels like a desire to destroy your body.

Anxiety feels like a wall around everything you do and every person you see. At first you try to climb the walls but they get higher and higher and your body gets more and more tired. At some point you give up trying to climb at all. Anxiety feels like your brain is a rat refusing to get off its wheel. It feels like the closest thing to dying.

What does not needing anything but yourself feel like?

Not needing anything but yourself feels like locking your phone in your car for hours and not caring. It feels like being hungry, but not eating. It feels like not having to justify taking a nap. Not needing anything but yourself feels like deciding not to feel guilty even though you have every reason that you could. It feels like dancing alone at a concert. It feels like having the type of hair and face day where people say things like, “you look tired,” or “you look sick,” but you know that what they’re really saying is that “you like crap,” and yet you couldn’t give a shit. It feels like actually kind of enjoying the experience of being sick. It feels like being on a constant vacation. It feels like alignment.

What does being someone who cries easily feel like?

Being someone who cries easily feels like pouring pickle juice down your shirt. It feels like you’re four and you have gone to too many birthday parties in too few days and your parents are struggling to remember the last time you have had a nap. But like a little kid, if you cry that hard, and then maybe actually take a nap, you can move on fast. It feels like a prize.

What does sorrow feel like?

Sorrow feels like you are constantly swallowing, but instead of experiencing the swallow, you are the swallow.

What does not learning from your mistakes feel like?

Not learning from your mistakes feels like lasting an entire Minnesota winter without getting a proper scraper for you car and then, just when you thought you made it to spring in snows in mid-April. And then again in May.

What does vulnerability feel like?

Vulnerability feels like all the connective tissue holding your heart parts together turned to scotch tape. It feels like confusing the caps on colored pens. The skin on your torso is thin, so you wrap your stomach is scarves.

What does the journey feel like?

At this park near your home there’s this magnificent climbing tree with branches radiating all the way up, the kind that, from the top, you can see all over the entire landscape. As a kid, your strong arms and legs carried you quickly and effortlessly up, you could hang out up there for hours before a parent or other adult called you back down. But as you spent more and more time on the ground, you grew increasingly accustomed to it and, at one point, you stopped climbing trees all together. Perhaps it was because your friends had stopped or because at one point you had fallen off without even realizing it.

For some, they will never see a need to reflect on the time they spent climbing trees. But, as you grew older, you find trees showing up in your dreams. At first you are able to forget these dreams, but they become more persistent and you find you must go back to the trees.

Standing at the base of the trunk, you find yourself filled with anticipation, but your arms are not strong and your legs are not limber, your body is no longer flexible and free. Frantically, you circle around and around the tree, desperate to find a low branch to hoist yourself up. But, though you feel brief moments of your body lifting, your feet keep hitting the ground again and again and your body becomes scratched and bruised. You want to scream, punch the tree, lie down on the ground and kick your hands and feet. You want to sink hard into shame and blame yourself for losing your strength and flexibility.

Yet, no amount of kicking and screaming, shaming and blaming will get you to the top of that tree. The only thing you can do is to thank yourself for even being willing to come back to that old climbing tree in the first place, you can thank your body for making so many attempts to hoist yourself up. The only thing that you can do is to commit to daily stretching and strength training knowing that, the more you train, the sooner you will be strong enough to climb. The only thing you can do is to hold a loving image of yourself at the top, knowing that you’ll get there, that in many ways you already are there.

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