Winter is Coming

The wall was crumbling. It was cracking and peeling like fiberglass. And, out of the gaps flowed the deepest sadness. I used my hands to cover the cracks. But, every loss I had experienced was still escaping. I placed my back against the wall to hold it up. But, countless stories of human suffering were cascading over the top. I could feel each of them singularly, intimately and intensely.

I was swirling in loss. I was surrounded by sorrow. And, I was drowning in sadness.

It was so much. It was too much. It felt like I was losing control. It felt like I was slipping away.

I felt a fear I had never felt before.

Am I losing my mind? Can I find my way back? Is this how it ends? I did not get to say good-bye.

I began to writhe and whimper.

It woke me up.

I swung my legs out from the under the covers and sat on the edge of the bed. I gripped the mattress like an anchor. And, after taking a couple of breaths, I picked up a pillow, found a blanket, and lay on the floor to stare at the ceiling. I was not going to allow sorrow to consume me, own me.

I have a lot of work to do I thought.

So, I closed my eyes. I charged the wall. And, I threw my shoulder into the sadness. I shoved. I pushed. I captured every sorrow and booted their asses back over the wall. I crumpled up every image of despair and crammed them back through the cracks from whence they escaped. Minute by minute I retook control. I reestablished my autonomy. I cleared the field of every bit of sadness. Except for one. The memory of my Grandmother. I walked over.  I gently wrapped my arms around it. I held it. I felt it. And, after a few moments, I tucked it behind the wall and sealed the final opening.

The alarm went off. I was exhausted. I stumbled into the bathroom, leaned on the counter, and looked into the mirror.

What have you created? I asked myself.

Here is what I have created.

Stories of pain and suffering, stories of hate and oppression, and stories of loss and abandonment continuously stream into my life. I hear about them on the radio. I am told about them by friends and family members. I witness them in endlessly looping videos. And, as they come into my life, I have learned how to protect myself against their debilitating consequences: process them quickly. I take momentary note of them, deposit them behind the aforementioned wall, promise to consider them later, and then get back to work. I do not let them touch me (too deeply). I do not let them distract me. There is too much work to be done. But, in truth, I rarely if ever get around to considering them.

Up until that night, this process seemed effective. I thought I possessed the secret to getting shit done.  However, it seems that my superficial processing of sorrow has created a toxic by-product. Behind that wall, I have my own “sorrow slurry” (see coal slurry).

And, I am not sure what to do with it all.

How do I clean it up?

Do I deal with each sorrow one by one? Do I take them all on at once? What about the sorrows that are coming?

Until I figure this out, I can only do what I know what to do with my other fears. Namely, write about it, share it, and expose it to the light of day. And, of course, go get shit done.

Shawn Humphrey, the Blue Collar Professor (@blucollarprof)

Connect with me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blucollarprof

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