12 July 2012

Tendency Toward Torpor

These days packing up to move, even if the move is temporary, fills me with anxiety, also a not-small-amount of fear.  This emotional response drains the life right out of me - particularly because it's a new response - part and parcel of only the two most recent moves:  the one I'm mired in now, and the move from Illinois back to Kentucky in 2006.  During the many and myriad moves I made prior to that I never experienced this debilitation - on the contrary, I found a certain energy and even a sense of hopefulness (false and fleeting though it was) during the eleven moves made between 1979 and 2004.

Of course I understand the reasons for the differences.  Of course I do, even though what I know about those reasons makes me squirm.  Why squirm?  Well [oh hell, just SAY it!] during those earlier moves I could and did focus on two things:  on other people in my life and what the move could mean to them, and on forcing myself to shove down any fear or anxiousness, really ANY emotions that might distract me from the tasks of moving.  Shoving down all emotions does contribute to the available energy, it's true.  And focusing on others makes shoving down emotions easier.

For these last two moves both of these things differ greatly from when I made the others:  there are no other people affected by my move, and I no longer have either the ability or the need to ignore or subsume my emotional responses.  Whether or not either of these is literally true - and certainly neither is completely true - what IS real, and thus constitutes truth for me currently, is that the move I'm dealing with now is about me.  Yeah, that's it - doing for, and with, and by myself, without consideration of others affectedness - doing only for and about me - that generates anxiety.  The little girl who still lives inside me learned, so well and so completely, that focusing on her wants and her desires was dangerous.  And that darling child seems to jump up and down on my belly as if it were a mattress, when I make choices and take actions in my own self interest.

So - anxiety and fear, and the torpor of the body and mind that these emotions generate, make the work of packing, sorting, arranging, lifting, throwing out, and so forth - the work of preparing to move really feel like work.  None of this is logical.  None of this truly even is real, and so none of it ought to keep me from getting the work of moving done.  And it won't.  Yet I know too that the only way - for me - to move along in the work of moving is to bring all of this into the light and open - by writing about it.

I'm reading Augusten Burroughs' new book, "This is How" - and lovin' it - because he's writing about just these kinds of things.  The ways we wear ourselves out, give away our power, and remain running in place (with scissors of course), our feet sticking in the muck of the unreality we accept as real are his topics - disguised within chapter titles like "How Not to Drink" or "How to Drink."  What he returns to again and again in his literate and ironic style is how we refuse to see what is real, really, and so cannot see what we need.  For Augusten, as for me, the need is to write about what is happening in emotion and behavior.  This act of writing - and sharing, that's part of it - helps with the tendency toward torpor, helps transmute it into it's flip side - the combination of taking it slow and steady and honoring the experience by expressing it.

In the same way that Burroughs has always given aid and comfort to the mistreated little guy who lives in him through his writing, I find that my scared little girl stops jumping on my belly when I write.  She's content to suck her thumb and smile at the upcoming adventure.

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