Sometimes, just sometimes, (aka often in Cornwall, in autumn, when they love to close 50% of the roads for repairs) I find myself in the state of utter despair, like tonight; a journey to a wonderful day in Delabole was marred by The Roads… This morning it took 1.5 hours to Truro from me (usually 20-25 minutes) due to (I later discovered, sadly) an accident, and a l-o-n-g detour round the lanes was followed by not getting fuel as I was, by then, SO late. Easy; get it on the way home, no problem. But at the end of the day I followed friends leading us in a convoy to a lovely pub for some supper, but I knew I could get fuel in Wadebridge afterwards. No; the one 'open all hours' garage wasn't. With about 10 mile's worth left of fumes, I asked a man in the Spar shop who said, "Bodmin - good luck!". I crawled the 8 miles to Bodmin (in rain, fog, and tempest - of course) and made it. smile emoticon Fuelled up I headed on for the A30, a fast, clear road home…which, at the actual slip-road entrance, announced to me it was closed, follow diversion….which I did….which took me the 8 miles back to….WADEBRIDGE!! So, as I again, an hour later, passed the 'open-all-hours' garage (which the man in Wadebridge Spar had announced to be 'Yea, useless; opens and shuts at a whim') I noticed I had driven a 22 mile circle…. But, nil desperandum, on, on, to collect the dog from Truro and get home…but at the turning to Truro, "Road Closed - follow diversion"…. Suffice to say, the windscreen bent outwards a little in small rhythmic movements in time to the 'prose' describing my feelings!! Why was this a form of self-kindness? Well, read on….
As I waited to drift off to sleep later I thought about this oh-so-common, not-really-earth-shattering life event and wondered… I felt interestingly 'clear'… Something was missing? Ah yes, the guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. Awkwardness. Those things which show up at the first sign of 'I shouldn't have lost it; I should know better by now and have stayed ultra calm and serene, after all, ranting makes no difference'… Or more correctly, 'You shouldn't have…' You? Why not I? Who's speaking to me inside then? Ah yes, those judges on the shoulder, like the ancestral parrot re-playing the old instructions which only serve to keep us down, disciplined, demure. Well, mine had flown off. So I bent the windscreen (windshield), but freely and openly, leaving no after-effects, because of two things.
One - self-kindness in the permission to feel feelings. I was aware I could have ranted with all the words along the lines of 'it's not fair!', and 'How could they?', but I now know that's pretty futile and only serves to have me observe myself with a certain 'Oh dear…'. But I could tell the road before me what I wanted to be heard; that I was tired! I didn't want this! Grrrrrrrrr! It was one of those darker-than-dark nights where the headlights seemed to only penetrate a few feet into the blackness. Rain and spray, fog and 'mizzle' (a particularly 'delightful' Cornish rain which is fine, soaking, and travels at you sideways at speed) coupled with tons of wet leaves, hills and sharp bends was demanding. I did not need this! I know people have real things they do not need, but right now this was mine, and I am human, and tired, and actually quite scared of the conditions. And I told it as it was - loudly. I let my self be heard and acknowledged by my self. I work in a field (Alexander Technique) where the saying no to unwanted tensions and reactions is the basis of the work, but to me this can lead to a covert suppression. Sometimes the need is to simply let the feelings OUT. We know it's ok to do this on violins, drums, pianos, but balk at the use of our own voice and lyrics!
So, I did, and, two, I played it. I had had a day 'Fooling' - the Art of Play, Lila-like, and it's a truly wonderful thing to do. So I played the angry and tired person meeting diversion signs. Just played it - like we would go see in a theatre, or on telly, and where we would cry-with-laughter in recognition of the 'little things' we humans find so irritating and tough. But how strange it is that we suppress, ignore, shame our natural tendencies to show frustration…. Maybe if we could all show it more, we could all give others permission to show theirs, and then, amazingly, we probably wouldn't all feel so frustrated! Having played it out, what showed up for me in its place was an easy gratitude.
So today, play your rants! Be kind to yourself and hear your feelings. Stamp your foot and say the line I had in a school play a million years ago, "It jolly well isn't fair! I'm going home to bed!" Then there's no need for projection onto others, judgement of self or others, and no need to suppress and compress into tension and the later 'stress-hangover' feelings.