We will pay for it later

‘Isn’t this hot weather amazing’ I say.

‘We will pay for it later’ you reply,

as if nothing good can happen

without a bill being presented.

Sunshine now

means suffering ahead.

But what about all the storms

we’ve already weathered?

Don’t they count,

like money in the bank?

I am taking this hot summer,

banking little pieces of

happiness.

Memories to unfold later,

to be viewed through the glasses of age,

rose tinted or otherwise.

I will save up some of these rays

and let them warm my future self.

I will not live my life in debt,

with good times bought on credit.

Instead I will believe

that I deserve happiness now.

The geography of anxiety

We think we know the ‘why’ of anxiety,

Spiralling up from all those things we fear;

pressure; external and internal,

death, deadlines, illness, perfectionism,

unemployment, failure.

So many ‘whys’

But what about the ‘where’?

Where is it?

The geography of anxiety is within the body.

Our bodies become shaped for anxious feeling,

the hunch of a shoulder,

the jutting forward of a chin,

the clenching of a jaw,

the tightness of a belly,

the holding of a ribcage,

like contours on a map.

Anxiety roams this bodyscape,

energy in a landscape of tension.

It lives below awareness,

coming to the surface occasionally

like a fish, silently swimming, unobserved,

leaping suddenly to catch a mayfly.

We hold our bodies in preparation for an unwelcome guest,

trapping it’s energy within.

Not allowing the natural progression of emotion and energy

to ebb and flow and dissipate.

We hold ourselves tight within our armoured castles

in the mistaken belief that we are protecting ourselves,

until the anxiety spills out without a reason

in quiet moments and times that should be happy,

and we feel out of control,

scared of being scared.

Next time the storm arrives, let’s watch it, feel it

let it be the map.

Let it guide us to our tensions,

sherpa-like.

Focus on those sensations and they will pass.

Not easy, when caught in a whirlwind of worries,

and dread.

But worth it.

And eventually, over a lifetime maybe,

relax so the inner landscapes are so calm,

that anxiety can flow straight through

like a river of energy,

leaving us unperturbed.

Security and adventure

Here it is again,

that old familiar tension

between security and adventure,

a central dichotomy in my life.

For a while now I have clung to employment

like a life raft through turbulent seas,

rescued from joblessness,

begging not to be set down again.

But suddenly today

a lifting, a shifting

physically in shoulders and upper chest

a releasing and then

a new perspective arrives.

I dare to imagine again

the freedom of breaking from the nine to five,

boarding a plane to who knows where,

making money who knows how,

I dream, and work looks a little dull.

It’s back,

that old familiar tension

between security and adventure.

In the past I’ve see-sawed between the two,

now I want to learn to balance.

This is how it ends

Here, in this woodland,

a burial among the

emerging leaves

and birdsong,

reminding me that

life can be beautiful

and terrifying,

unfair and wonderful.

Don’t choose the winding path

of fear through life.

We all reach the same place,

eventually.

But lighter steps

and love

and kindness

make the journey easier.

This is how it ends

for us all,

surrounded by sorrow,

and love.

Everyday insights

Gripped by anxiety,

a looming hospital appointment,

I failed to notice the world outside

where the blackbird continued to sit on her nest in the rain,

and despite my unawareness

the symphony of spring carried on.

Then suddenly, I realized.

Anxiety again.

Welcome.

I don’t have to fight you any more

I just have to relax.

We are not separate,

you are not something to be held at bay

by techniques and force of mind.

You are a response to a situation,

my response.

Forgive me.

You have always been the frightened child

I pushed away.

Now you are welcome to rest here

until we both feel safe again.

A queen bee stopped on a flower, unnoticed,

unmoved by my revelation

as I wiped away a tear,

but I will remember.

Peace is always waiting

A rushing kind of a day

Deep within the demands of work

Deadlines loom

So I concentrate

Focus

Get things done

And forget myself

Now it’s evening and

I peel myself away from the TV

Put on some music

Slow down into

Familiar movements

An hour later

I re-emerge

Relaxed

Refreshed

Calm

Reawoken to the truth

That if I slow down

Underneath the rush

Below the fear, the fuss, the resistance

Peace is always waiting

Imagination

A blessing and a curse

this vivid imagination

conjuring up so many pleasant daydream worlds,

and paintings, stories, poems, music.

Allowing me to put myself in another’s shoes,

to empathise.

Enabling me to imagine the worse possible catastrophic outcome

for any situation I find myself in.

My body doesn’t know

that the stories in my head are not real,

and responds with pleasure, excitement, fear, dread, anxiety,

feeling it all, deeply.

And it takes a strong rational act of will to calm down,

to find a way back into the here and now.

Leaving the world of the imagination is not easy.

A blessing, and a curse.