Updated: Feb 1
Last evening, I misjudged the placement of a stool leg and I whacked my baby toe against it, wrenching it away from its neighbour toe and causing a great deal of pain. This morning, it is purple and the purple is spreading across the top of my foot. I did not cry even though I wanted to. Instead, I dwelled in anger and muttered a few fucks under my breath. I did a similar thing to my other baby toe about 18 months ago and it hasn't yet healed fully.
Why am I telling you this? Because my baby toe is me and the rest of my toes are the world in which I live now - I am apart from, hived off, confused and feeling alone, no longer a part of a larger symbiotic community that thrives on trust, respect, and kindness. Looking for less of a metaphor? How about this? What the actual fuck is going on in the world? And how did we get ourselves here?
I recently came across this piece of wisdom from the poet Rilke:
I want to beg you, as much as I can to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
I've been reading it over and over. And as I do, a glimmer of hope, nay, reprieve is taking shape within. It is so easy to get caught up in needing to comprehend the machinations, the greater purpose, the meanness that is the world these days. The illusion is that by understanding it, I can somehow control its impact on me. The greater challenge, though, is to just be with the question, the uncertainty, the fear and confusion. I wish I could tell you that I have reached that place of inner peace but no such luck. All I can do is sit with the unknown and make that enough.
I also try to hang on to the things that matter, to gather around me, even just energetically, the people, places and things I cherish. I remind myself that kindness counts, respect counts, goodwill counts. In the face of unreasoned conflict and violence, I am able to counter with the opposite, an antidote. I do still have agency in my world if not in the larger one.
Eventually, the purple on my foot will recede. My toe will reduce to its usual size and rejoin the neighbouring toes. It may not fully heal, something about it will have permanently changed with this experience of pain and isolation, but it will find its way back to comfort and companionship. It may just feel whole again.
P.S. There's still some room in my upcoming in-person Let's Get Messy freewriting group. For more information, check it out here.