— Waiting for Godot
I stopped in the doctor’s office this week for an annual checkup. (Because I am a responsible adult.)
“How much do you drink these days?” she asked.
Maybe about five drinks a week?
“That’s great. Much better than before.”
Why, what did I say last year?
She glanced at my records on her screen. “Fifteen drinks a week.”
Whoa. Yeah. Last winter was rough.
Last February, I was already nearly dead.
My life had fallen completely apart and I was stumbling through the Minnesota winter barely remembering how to put one foot in front of the other.
It feels now like a blur of whiskey and cigarettes and therapy sessions and cold nights and desperate prayers.
By the time Lent began, I didn’t need to be reminded that I was returning to dust. I could feel it all around me.
it’s february and i can’t tell where
advent ends and lent begins
i can’t tell much of anything anymore
do you have any idea how impossibly impractical
dear god i have a love / hate relationship with
(well, everything these days)
but specifically the gospel because
“all shall be well” feels less like
a fragment of light on the horizon and more like
a fragment of shrapnel in my gut
Last February I bowed my head to the ashes and wine and as Lent began I hoped against hope that resurrection would come.
But resurrection did come (though not in all the ways I had hoped).
And now I’m a little bit not sure what to do next.
See, when life goes all to hell and you’re just trying to keep breathing, it consumes you. You have one focus: stay alive.
But a year later you’re in a new house that’s starting to feel like home, doing work that you love, surrounded by friends who care about you, and sometimes you still find yourself waking up wondering, “What now?”
I’ve had mixed feelings about Lent this year.
Should I fast?
Should I quit whiskey again?
Should I find ashes for my forehead?
Every time I’ve seen another essay or picture or poem about Ash Wednesday I’ve felt a whisper of spiritual anxiety in my stomach.
My mind is quick to slip back into the deep ruts of religious performance and duty, inspired by fear that if I don’t observe my spiritual practice “the right way”, I’ll somehow miss out on the connection with the Divine that I so deeply crave.
I didn’t want to get out of bed today.
Because I am a responsible adult (today), I bribed myself with coffee, lit a candle, and willed my way to my yoga mat. On a whim, I decided to begin a 30-day yoga camp from my favorite yoga instructor on the whole earth.
“Today, we are going to begin our journey with acceptance of who we are, and of where we are,” she said.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor in my office, I began to breathe again.
I so often forget that this, all of this, is a journey.
I resent the absence of a destination, of there, of perfect, of finished.
I wonder if I’m doing it right, if I’m doing enough, or if I’m fucking up my life beyond repair.
I don’t think I’ll quit whiskey for Lent this year.
When this evening rolls around, there won’t be an angsty Instagram of ashes smudged across my very serious forehead.
This is not last winter. (I lived.)
Today, I am not struggling for air.
Today, I am discovering what to do now that I am happy.
And today, I accept where I am, trusting that it is exactly where I am supposed to be.
Today I am loosely considering working through the 30 Day Yoga Camp during this season, and writing about the intentions and experiences I discover.
published February 10, 2016
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