Yesterday I was grabbing a cup of delight at Joe with my Diana+ Instant camera. My coffee looked so beautiful, I was dying to shoot it--but I hadn't packed my flash. Luckily, the Diana has a mode where you can keep the shutter open as long as you like. On the left, I kept it open for one second--on the right, two.
The pair of pictures captured perfectly the two sides of the pendulum I'm swinging between over here--light and dark, high and low. Same coffee, same life, just the internal weather forecast changing from day to day.
I do my best to hold steady when the pendulum swings. Here are a few things that help.
Stay together. Even when it's tempting to fall off the map (and maybe even stay there), I try to at least read emails from my friends and eek out as many words in reply as I can. I don't stop answering my phone. I go to story shows to be with my peeps even when I'm not performing, and I accept their invitations for a turn behind the microphone. Light or dark, high or low.
Keep the rhythm. My daily and weekly rhythms (or routines) are so grounding. I wake at the same time every day. I start with peppermint tea and two slices of spelt toast. Then an espresso drink with steamed milk mid-morning. Yoga class, Sunday matinee movies at BAM, a Law & Order episode before bed--all these things are like glue when my internal parts are loose and rattling.
Turn on compassion; turn off judgment. It can still feel like a character flaw or a bout of extreme wimpiness to have inner stormy seas to me, but I really have to go easy on myself. There are so many tides turning in our bodies, along with the ebb and flow of creative work, and none of it warrants condemnation. When winter comes outside, I adjust and put on a coat. When an internal winter arrives, I try to simply adjust and wrap myself in cozy self-care. I draw myself a bath, put on a pair of hand-knit socks, and try to soften the edges on everything--including my internal dialogue.
The light and dark flows aren't easy to ride out, but I'm starting believe that mystery and beauty are lingering in all our times and all our spaces.