Stumbling Across Tranquillity

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

I’m in a bit of a mood today. You could say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or someone peed in my porridge. What other euphemisms can I use? When I woke up this morning, I put on my grumpy pants and my sour shoes. I did the bah humbug shuffle and turned myself inside out. I looked down at my unmade bed and counted the minutes until I could get back in.

T-minus 16 hours and counting. 16! Seriously? Those are a lot of minutes to fill, and the bed looks so snuggly. I can cut that down time by, say, 90%, and that wouldn’t be unreasonable, would it? No one would question the stability of my mental health if I just said screw it and slipped under the covers right now.

No, no one at all.

Actually, I’m not feeling depressed or anything quite so heavy. Well, I always carry around a certain degree of depression. It’s my baseline emotional state. On a good day, it hums quietly in the background. Occasionally, it prods me with a four-by-four, and I need to close my eyes, breathe in deep, and shake it off.

Sure, I wouldn’t say it’s fun, but I’ve grown accustomed to its presence and, on days like today, I know I can push through it. It’s not debilitating or anything so dramatic. It is, however, annoying, and I wish my brain wouldn’t function like this, but I’m making peace with it. Slowly. Most days. Okay, I’m still working on it, and perhaps I’m being stoic. 

Then again, people who don’t have to manhandle their mental health have days like this. You wake up feeling grumpy for no reason. The desire to function in a way that resembles a human being is non-existent. You search for the feeling words, but all you can come up with is blah.

And I think that’s what’s happening to me right now. It’s a case of the Monday blah’s, and the can’t be bothered’s. The engine is revving, the breaks are locked, and the tires are smoking. It can seem quite tense, but it’s nothing more than a bothersome little twerp flexing its small-d energy.

Small-d…Wow, I am in a mood!

So, I sit in front of my computer, staring at the blank page with the blinking cursor, and sigh tiredly. The familiar old doubts cross my mind, and I bite my bottom lip. Why bother? What’s the point? Do you really think it will matter? What could you say that will mean anything to anyone? Do you really think this will move your life forward? Why will this time be any different?

These questions, and a dozen like them, come and go unanswered because I don’t know how. They are, by their very nature, unanswerable. They have nothing to do with logic or reason. If they did? I would give them my reply, and they would go away.

But, the answer doesn’t matter. The questions are pure emotions stemming from a deep reservoir of self-doubt and insecurities. These feelings cause me to question, doubt and bite my lip a little harder. When I’m in this mindset, I’m a raw nerve that’s under pressure. It’s causing this prickliness that rational thought can’t ease.

So, what can take the edge off? Will anything help? Is this just going to be one of those days that I write off as lost to the mood? This case of the blah’s, the Monday’s, and the sour shoes is in control. I don’t get to say how it turns out?

That seems like a horrible idea, and I don’t want to give into it that easily. There has to be something I can do to turn this day around. I can be a victim of my emotions or a survivor of them. The power doesn’t belong to the gremlin in my head or, at least, not entirely. So, what can I do about it?

Well, if my Gran taught me anything, it was simply: A cuppa tea makes everything better. It’s not a magic elixir so, don’t get your hopes up too high. It won’t solve all that ails, but it has the curious ability to make troubles appear more manageable. 

It’s like the rearview mirror in the car. Things may appear small than they are or something to that effect. After the ritual of tea making, the slow sip of the overheated liquid, and sigh-inducing deliciousness, well, how bad can things be? After a transitory reverie, the crucial things are prominent and the trivial fall to the side.

Usually, and I’m hoping that’s the case today. 

I really want to feel like I’ve accomplished at least one thing today. An iota of productivity is better than feeling like a lazy potato. Not that there’s anything wrong with occasionally being a lazy potato. But today? This moodiest of Mondays? If I’m going to turn it around, I need to accomplish at least one thing, and these words will do nicely.

Hopefully. Probably. Has the kettle boiled yet? What’s taking so long?

Ah, that’s better. The steaming cup is in my hand, I’m sitting on my deck, and looking out at the spring greenery. The sky can’t decide what it wants to do. The clouds come and go. One minute it’s grey and overcast. The next, the sun is shining a bright spotlight on the petals falling from the cherry trees.

Is there anything more beautiful than cherry blossoms backlit by a bright blue sky?

Actually, I can think of one place that was so beautiful it took my breath away. It would seem that this cup of tea and scenery are triggering a moment of reverie. Well, hello, old friend. It’s nice to see you again.

A few years ago, I found myself at a complete loss of purpose, direction, and meaning. I’d spent the last five years taking care of loved ones who were at the end of their lives. Every day I’d been there to help them take care of their needs. I made sure they ate, had their medications, a bath, and made sure they didn’t get lost in their dementia.

It was challenging but, I’m honoured to have been there for them. They gave me so much when I was growing up. Being there, in the end, felt like it was the least I could do. I don’t mean that sacrificially. It was…I’m struggling to find the right words. All I can say is, it was an honour and a privilege to sit with them in those last few years.

But it did take up a lot of my time and energy. If you’ve looked after a loved one, especially someone who has dementia, then you know what I’m talking about. As rewarding as it was, it was also incredibly challenging, exhausting, and life-consuming.

And then they passed away peacefully. Their stories had come to an end, and so did that chapter in my life. I had put so much of myself, my identity, into taking care of them that I felt lost. I had no idea what to do with my time, life, or what my own story was supposed to be.

At the same time, a career I had been pursuing on the side, one I had dreamed of for so long, came to a crashing halt. I wasn’t sure if I should continue chasing the dream or if this was a sign that it was over. Should I mourn the loss and find something new? Or should I keep fighting and seek out another avenue? 

Answers were in short supply but, there were plenty of opinions. While I was grateful to hear their thoughts and outside perspectives, it didn’t offer any clarity or direction. Those were things that I had to find for myself but, where should I look? Where should I even begin? I’d be damned if I knew.

Then a friend asked me if I wanted to go back to her hometown with her and visit her parents. I love her parents! I adore them. They are the kindest, funniest, most warm-hearted people on the planet. I hadn’t seen them in so long, I missed them so much, and that had to change.

Besides, the change of scenery would do me some good, and I didn’t have a good reason to stay close to home. I was a free agent with nothing holding me back or tying me down. So, off we went.

They live on the northern tip of Vancouver Island, in a fairly remote village. At one point, we drove for three hours without seeing another car or any signs of humanity. It was an endless stretch of twisting mountain roads, old-growth rain forest, and at least one bear eating berries.

To say that this was out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I’m a city mouse who likes to visit the woods as long as they’re close to a bustling hub of activity. It feels safer and less likely that I will become some wild animals squeaky toy.

Out there in the middle of nowhere? My friend gave me a pocket knife to carry with me when I walked out the front door. Apparently, cougars think homes are their personal pantries. Open the door, and you become a snack. What? Why do people live like this?

Ah, but then one day near the end of the trip, I figured it out, sort of. The village sits on a mountainside overlooking Neroutsos Inlet. It’s ghostly quiet, peaceful, and the picture of tranquillity. It’s the kind of beauty that makes you believe you’ve stepped inside a painting or a photograph. Is it real? Damn nature, you outdid yourself.

I went down to the docks on a cloudy day, kind of like today, and I stood on the pier. A kayaker was gliding across the black opal water. A blue heron was fishing off some logs bobbing near the shore. Bald eagles were swooping down from their perches, across the saltwater, and soaring back up with their prey in claw.

For the first time in many months, my mind stopped looking for answers and searching for something that still feels unattainable. That elusive concept of purpose and meaning stopped being a desperately sought-after treasure. Instead, for that moment, I was content to stand there and exist in the simplicity.

I don’t meditate very well and being still for any reason isn’t manageable. Being present, living in the moment, and all those other fancy ideas are elusively fanciful. They’re too good to be true so, I don’t seek them out as often as I should.

But every once in a while, these moments sneak up on me. They take my breath away, pull me out of my head and temporarily dilute my worries. The moodiest of days, like today, can’t compete with the sheer beauty and perfection of stumbling across the heart of tranquillity.

I can’t say I found the answers I was looking for on that dock, staring out at the inlet. There are somethings that even intense beauty can’t inspire. But I found the energy to keep looking. I discovered a lost hopefulness that one day I’d find my purpose or a direction. Also, it inspired me to start writing again and put myself out here in this online world. Who knows where that will lead.

Ah, a gal can dream.

The clouds have settled in now, and my tea is almost gone. Revisiting that memory brought some of that tranquillity I sorely needed. I’m still a little blah but, I’m breathing easier. Also, the thought of going back to that village, visiting brilliant people, and standing on that dock is making me smile.

That’s not a bad start to the week.


3 thoughts on “Stumbling Across Tranquillity

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  1. Thanks for the reminder to reflect on those beautiful moments of inspiration. I am also feeling overdue for a road trip as a change of scenery seems to do wonders for lifting my spirits. Adventure on my friend, and when possible, with a traveling buddy.

    Liked by 1 person

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