Alberge Street

 “Sjoe, that’s quite heavy”, Dearly Beloved’s initial response on listening to my piece on ‘Loss, longing and languishing’. “Don’t you want to finish on a lighter note, maybe talk a little bit about how to meet the malaise?” The latter, my words rather than hers, but the meaning I was making from where and how the piece left her, and her sense of where it might leave others.

 Not a simplistic or superficial response from Beloved, but a very human one, a human like other humans, she was wanting something more positive upon which to hang her hat of hope. And could such not be asked of a person in the profession of coach?

“No I don’t want to. I know it’s a ‘downer’ and that’s what it is, what is true for me.” Part of me agrees that it would be nice to have a more hopeful ending, to offer a few slivers of light, to provide some strategies however small, for lessening the languishing. 

Another part, a greater part, believes that this state into which I have slipped, and its accompanying feelings and sensations, need to be honoured, maybe even hung about in. Not with an intention of wallowing, but to give voice and validity to the realness of the state of stagnation, arresting me, and many others I suspect.  To hold it up to the light with my handcuffed hands, to study it from left and right, top and bottom, to feel its weight and then ultimately, to label it. ‘Languishing’. And having labelled it, to continue to hold it with accepting hands, without judgement. To hold it without the arrival of a marching band’s drummer or cheerleader’s baton to sound, spin, or spirit it away. Just to be, and not to do. At least not ‘to do’ until the label and its many underlying layers have been declared legitimate residents, and not adjudged interlopers to be dismissed, denied, or diminished.

From this arena of acceptance, of looking languishing in the eye, of granting a gentle nod of acknowledgement, an unexpected loosening, the first lapping of liberation – a liberation made possible through languaging. Lapping liberation that over the days after this labelling, began to feel me being released from languishing’s de-energising grip. A lapping that caught a current and carried its own curiosity: what might I do to use this momentum, to help move into the landscape beyond?

No lofty ideals or higher order intentions, quite simply the question: what are the one or two things that I know will support me, that I need to do, to feel more anchored, however slightly, instead of casting about on seemingly uncaring seas?

Two things: walking and words.

And so, in the three weeks since the labelling of my loss, longing, and languishing, a conscious commitment to my pen and pack. The daily passage of pen over journal pages: both spacious and specific – recordings of random and in-the-moment thoughts and feelings; and focused reflection in response to the question: what held meaning for me today? An enquiry that has been bringing back to the foreground, that which had become faded and unfelt. Meaning. Tissue Salt no 1 for supplementing and supporting my more satisfied living.

Alongside the arrangement of the alphabet, once, twice or three times weekly wanderings around the streets and suburbs with my backpack and sticks, on feet not practising for faraway steps, or carrying the promise of story-catching or storytelling in foreign lands. But simply, walking for the connection it brings to self, to mind, body, and emotions in the moment, to the meaning it holds without trying to.

Wording and walking myself into a somewhat more positive place, a few steps beyond the place that is so easily and insidiously the one into which to slide, in the limitation of pandemic life. Wording and walking myself into greater wellbeing, into the welcome landscape beyond languishing. 

 A sign on my walk yesterday that obviously caught my eye. A sign from the universe saying: “You might not be staying in one in Spain anytime soon, but walking is a good way for you.”