I thought this morning about my overwhelmed reaction to normal group conversation at the school’s staff party last night. “What is happening to me?” I went out to breakfast at Wimpy’s Diner in St. Thomas, mostly to see my friend and usual waitress Angie. She was wonderfully supportive about my early exit from the bike ride and made sure I got the message “No failure there.” Still, I lingered in the restaurant for at least an hour after the meal was toast, really vacant in the head.
Afterwards, I wanted to wash Scarlet, who was massively dirty after I laid my sodden tent over her a couple of weeks ago. I like manual car washes and I heard there was one on the east edge of St. Thomas, which would be a good ongoing choice for me. When I pulled up to the place, however, I realized that it was an automatic one. I told myself I was too tired to go further into town to use the manual one I knew, so I pulled into line. It was so strange – I couldn’t figure out how automatic car washes work. The attendant who eventually came into view was very patient but was perhaps seeing me as a new arrival on the planet. “What is happening to me?”
My plan was to spend a good part of the day at the St. Thomas Library but as I approached the right turn for such a location, my mind said “Turn left. Go home.” I obeyed. “Meditate.”
I sat down in the cozy meditation chair in my bedroom. As I was about to close my eyes, the telephone rang. It was my friend Adele. She reads all my posts and was concerned about me. “I wonder if you have PTSD.” Immediately my head said “Yes. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Maybe that conclusion is a little dramatic, but I fear (appropriate word, I’d say) it’s in the ballpark. Adele continued: “You need to rest. Take a week and be with yourself.” > “I could have a meditation retreat … at home.” > “Yes, you could.”
Before that phone rang, I felt immersed in “badness, lostness, sadness”. The term that came to mind, also with the potential of exaggeration, was “The Dark Night of the Soul”, a spiritual state of despair that many people have experienced and documented. And then Adele shows up in my ear.
After we finished talking, I did close my eyes … for one hour and forty minutes of blessed sitting. Very few thoughts came. I slipped deeply into rest. Some lovely energy floated down over my face and over my body. Down, down and down, and yet always alert to the world of my bedroom. I nodded off nine times, five or six of them with tiredness so profound that I nearly fell off the chair. After each one, some voice said “Continue.” So I did.
Now it’s an hour after I rang my singing bowl three times as an expression of completion. The Dark Night is not here. No demons assail me. Will the darkness and fear return? I have no doubt they will. They have a mind of their own. The healing, I believe, will take time.
The Buddha said some cool things. Here’s one:
You can search throughout the entire universe
For someone who is more deserving
Of your love and affection than you are yourself
And that person is not to be found anywhere
Thank you, Mr. Buddha