July 12, 2018

Rift & Repair: the Magic of Leaning into Uncomfortable Moments.

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.” ~ Pema Chödrön 


I dread rift.

But I’m settling into it—kind of the way you settle into accepting a relative you don’t much care for. Or dog hair on the floor. Or impending death.

Settling is a soft word and that’s intentional. I don’t jump into the rifts. No kamikaze-ing. I just lean.

Settling is soft. Mostly we do it on couches, and hopefully we get the chance to settle in with a beloved at some point in our lives. But what I’m trying to approximate here is the feeling of settling against something uncomfortable—like settling the small of your back against a metal pole on a cold ferry ride. Or settling your feet onto the sticky, dank floor of a packed subway.

Rift occurs all the time, day and night. Our dreams are ripe with rifts. Most of the time they feel like little earthquakes, small disruptions, light shaking.

I can feel them in my body now. Screeching buses stress my eardrums. Fluorescent, harshly lit rooms hurt my eyes. One minute I’m chopping vegetables and the next I’m wincing in pain trying to remember where the first aid kit is.

Last night I traveled to Los Angeles to see a friend’s performance. Walking down just one block of Hollywood Boulevard sent me sailing into deep, murky waters of discomfort. I began dissociating and disconnecting at once. And yet, somehow I found a way to row myself back into the moment. I leaned into each dark, confusing second.

I leaned into the urine smell wafting up from the filthy sidewalk. I leaned in to the terror-filled eyes of an emaciated homeless woman in the throes of a psychotic break. And I leaned into the garish whirl of storefront upon storefront pedaling loud products in the forms of hookahs, T-shirts, and trinkets, all of which were made in inhumane, polluted factory environments.

And in the lean I realized—this is it!

I discovered the gorgeous in the grotesque. It was there that I found the repair.

The repair arrives as I consider how much it would suck to be without a bathroom. Also when I look earnestly into the homeless woman’s eyes with an open heart, connecting in a way that doesn’t require my sane self. I’m just there with her, letting her tell me whatever she needs to, even if it doesn’t make logical sense.

And magic happens in the repair too. The guy in the hookah store saved me from getting a parking ticket by offering to cash out loads of quarters for the parking meter that wasn’t reading debit cards.

Rift and repair. Plants use it for growth. Muscles too—and breath. A coming and a going. Maybe the best we can all attempt in this human form is to maintain an awareness of where we’re at on the roller-coaster ride. And to try and enjoy it a bit too.

Good luck to you. And if you see me on the subway, I hope you offer up a smile.

Lean in. I’ll be welcoming the repair.


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Catherine Graves

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