My shoulders settle down my back and my heart lifts at the clickity-clack sound of my fingers dancing across my laptop.
My ring turns on my right hand, so that the family heirloom diamonds point down and towards the softer skin of my palm. I twirl it back into place with my pinkie but it slips back and I don’t care.
I feel my head settle down and into my heart space as I anticipate purging myself through words.
I sink into my chair with my tall spine jetting up towards the sky; my posture only slightly slumped at my tired shoulders, but it’s more of a softening and a giving in to my need to write and open up than a wilting droop.
Because sometimes life makes me want to envelop myself in bedsheets and tears and drown myself in slow, steady-thumping music as my chosen backdrop.
And then I’m driving down the windy road and feeling this need to blast the music too loudly for the little girl safely nestled in a carseat behind me.
I want to roll down the windows and feel every ounce of wind that I can across my flying, tangled hair and I want to drive off, away from the rising sun, towards a place that awaits in the shadows; calmer, gentler than the life of my past few weeks.
But I can’t.
I learned a long time ago that we cannot run away from our problems or from ourselves and that this only serves to prolong inevitable discomfort.
So I keep the music at a more moderate level and tell my daughter in the backseat that I love her.
I place my hands consciously at ten o’clock and two o’clock and drive to the yoga studio to drop off a few more copies of my just-released book and then to our local eyeglass shop instead of towards some imaginary oasis of pure fun and end-of-summer laughter.
But how do I eradicate my tensions and my stresses, and my over-filled life, when I no longer want to run my feet into splints or starve myself sick or drink too much wine while cooking dinner?
The shower I took kind of worked.
I let the water wash over me as I quickly rinsed off, and I felt a little bit lighter in my stuck emotions as I toweled off my dripping hair.
And that long, deep drink of water felt nice.
The soft feel of it on my tongue and the releasing it brought to my dry throat made the center of my chest soften just a touch.
But these are temporary fixes—just like alcohol and pounding the pavement.
Sure, there are long-term benefits to appropriate exercise and I’m not one to diminish the joys of moderate drinking either, but, still, when I go to bed tonight my problems will still be there and their weight will not have lessened.
So I’ll open up a book, after turning on just enough light to read by; holding the loved, worn pages up to my nose as I transport myself out of my bedroom.
I’ll let my eyes droop for too long until I finally admit that I need to flip off the light and, putting my book to the side, finally curl up under my bedsheets.
I’ll will my pre-slumber thoughts to be positive—things that conjure my gratitude and my love for my inhabited human skin—as I feel the way that my body tingles right before I fall asleep.
And maybe I’ll remember a few of my black-and-white dreams or maybe I’ll get up once or twice to use the bathroom, but when I wake, in the soft grey light of my bedroom, I’ll have a split moment in time before the sleepy fog clears and my mind once again turns to my everyday reality, and in that instance I’ll have purged myself of my yesterday.
So maybe, sometimes, we can’t do much to move forward from our troubles.
Instead, we dig in our heels and feel it all and hold the people we love tightly.
We let tears fall and we do, from time to time, roll all the windows down in the car and turn the music up too much.
We recognize, too, that our daily choices of health and joy help attract these things back into our lives, but, equally, we understand that life is often beyond the control of our own two hands (no matter how well placed at ten o’clock and two o’clock).
I notice that my diamond stones—the ones that even my great-great grandfather wore—are once again perched on the top of my finger, and I honestly don’t know if they rolled back on their own or if I unconsciously shifted them back there while my fingers danced.
I observe, too, how my shoulders round a little bit more and, glancing at the time, I note my readiness for the evening to be enclosed in darkness.
And I tell myself that tomorrow will rise up new and clean and pure from today’s ashes, simply by my continuing to put one foot in front of the next.
Because sometimes that’s all we can do.
This article was first published by elephant journal.
Photo: João Lavinha/Flickr.