It is Thursday for me and possibly Friday for you, this week’s essay is delayed because I had to nap it out this week and then was in too much of a big mood to edit this, but here we are, hi!
Today I am just talking about the many things on my mind, including slow process, solitude, recovery, latibulation (we’ll get to that), and the brave and meaningful work of keeping on keeping on.
Latibulation on my mind
What a week, huh
The disasters are not taking a rest. Have been checking up on friends in San Diego, LA, and the central coast of California, to see how they were doing in the hurricane that turned into a hurriquake.
Also checking on my friends in Oregon and Washington and in western and eastern Canada, to see how they’re managing with the fires and the smoke. And my friends from Hawai’i who have really been through it. Oof.
Today it’s my friends in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, suffering in the intense heat and relentless midwestern humidity. And a tornado?
It’s too many emergencies
And then I lost track of what the weather is doing, because it’s too many emergencies in too many places, which is the theme of it all, isn’t it.
How are you doing, long distance friend? I hope you are comfortable, or as comfortable as you can be, wherever you are in the world, and that bonus comforts and refreshing surprises are showing up as needed.
What a week, huh (take 2)
Here in the United States, this was a big week for chaotic energy and big unsettling feelings.
We have the grim spectacle of presidential primary debates, the mass denial of both the pandemic and climate change on the right versus the depressingly useless “nuh-uhhhh it is real” response from the people currently in charge who have no plan and aren’t doing anything, that’s fun.
And there was big anticipation for Trump mugshot day but sadly zero good jokes, and I don’t know about you, but do we even get our hopes up anymore about anything?
I don’t think I do. Check in with me on this later maybe. Right now things are very unsettling.
What a week, huh (take 3)
More and more people in my life now have long covid too, and are checking in with me, sometimes with the hope that I might relay some good fortifying news that might make them feel better, which I do not have.
I do not have fortifying good news and very rarely do I have much in the way of hope.
On the other hand, I have luck and also I have clarity about my luck.
The clarity being that if I entirely devote myself to exquisite self-tending, deep rest, and doing as little as possible, I am sometimes able to pull off impressive feats like not needing to stay in bed all day, or behold as I miraculously stand up for an hour at a time and make gluten free tortillas…
These are blessings, I do not take them for granted. I know I am so very lucky.
And also, at the same time
And also, at the same time, it is deeply frustrating to know that the price of these temporary miracles is resting as the main thing I do, and that doing slightly too much of the non-resting things will send me right back to bed.
Even when I can be in doing mode, I still can’t do enough things to keep up with [the everything, the tasks at hand], etc.
My friend tried to cheer me up by saying that doing one thing is great, and eventually it will build up to two or even three things, and that’s a nice thought, but my friend also has none of my problems and also can’t imagine having them. So there’s that.
But luck and clarity are not nothing, and they might be related to other useful qualities, like steadiness, or faith.
Baby that’s how it is
Some days I have more peace and acceptance, some small amount of baby that’s how it is.
Some days I am in the big despair.
Some days (today) I am furious at the world and my fury is too big to manage.
Some days I am watching the rain.
Some days I multi-task and cycle through all of these, sometimes almost simultaneously, bouncing around the stages of grief. Bounce bounce bounce. Baby that’s how it is.
Watching the rain
It’s been a very weird confusing day here, rainy, sluggish, I feel fuzzy and ungrounded which could be all the stress or it could be, in the words of my favorite typo of all time, all the extenuating circuses.
So no wonder. All that plus the Extenuating Circuses™️, truly how could I not be a mess?
I’m allowed to be a mess and watch the rain.
Also, part of the ongoing climate emergency is not only the trauma of each new disaster but the ongoing, cumulative, and residual anxiety left over from each previous disaster.
Last August my road flooded both directions & I was trapped a week in my tiny house, so all-day rain is not neutral, it is a reminder of a scary time in the past, and of future scary times…
A breath for all this.
Plant friends, full of life
Yesterday I bravely and heroically walked all the way down the driveway to my mailbox and back.
The mullein plants are flourishing, they tower over me, absolutely glorious.
The Mexican sunflowers are taller than I am too, I love looking up at them and saying hello.
The cottonwood trees dance and glimmer in the breeze. Tree friends and plant companions, this is lucky too.
And: They are thriving in the rain. This rain is not an emergency for them, it is an emergency in my mind.
In search of the new word
Sometimes I think about hermit life as lonely. I only have a real conversation with a real person every six to eight weeks if that.
At other times I am able to remember that I have this abundance of friends in the natural world. I have porch-bunnies who peek in the door, hummingbirds who peek in the windows, and of course the absolute miracle of podcasts (bless my new wifi situation) to keep me company.
Sometimes I am able to remember that loneliness isn’t even the right word for what I’m experiencing here, maybe it’s not even a relevant theme. And am I not a real person? Why do the real conversations I have with myself not count?
I think they do!
Welcome to The Life Solitudinal
This is where I am, The Life Solitudinal.
That’s not a word, or it isn’t one yet, but you know what I mean by it.
I came out here a few months into the pandemic, in search of peace and quiet in the wild wilds, and to be safe away from the crowds, and are those not beautiful, meaningful, valid, extraordinary? And again, lucky?
What if this experience of seclusion is exactly what I need and nothing is missing?
(I keep getting clues about this, and then immediately dropping them like they are hot to the touch, because I am very invested in a familiar narrative about loneliness and sorrow.)
Last week I wrote, among other things, about the gentle wisdom of doing the things that work for no other reason than that they are the things that work.
And when they don’t work, we try other things, but start with what works, start from the Known Knowns.
Do The Things That Help Because They Are The Things That Help!
This week I (very brilliantly, good job) proved my own point by doing none of the things that work, and feeling exquisitely miserable as a result until I finally made the connection. Galaxy brain in action.
Interrupting the pattern changes the pattern
Yesterday I had a meltdown of glorious proportions, and then realized what was happening. This was the natural consequence of several consecutive days of not doing the things that help, and also not doing other things that might help instead.
So I did some of the things that work: an herbal tea rinse for my hair, fifteen minutes of gentle stretching, legs up the wall, and am furious to report that doing the things that help does indeed (sometimes) help.
At the very least, it interrupts the self-perpetuating cycle of only doing the things that don’t help, and that’s something too.
Someone online reminded me that sometimes we end up doing things we don’t like as a way of regulating our emotions and our nervous systems, and that this is normal and okay, who among us doesn’t sometimes need a shortcut.
Can I get better at noticing this and saying, “Ah yes I am using a shortcut to regulate my emotions and I’m okay with this choice today….”
May it be so, or something even better.
The sideways approach
This week I simply could not deal with my list of things so have approaching everything sideways.
I did some baking for Cooking Club (imaginary club, real baking), and some journaling with various incoming selves and versions of me who gave me wise counsel.
When I didn’t want to do my morning practice, I had a dance party for three songs instead.
A dance party is a very clarifying thing, for me. Sometimes it just shows me that my house is too messy to thrive. Sometimes it reminds me that I have always loved to move.
What helps (add joy)
When I am feeling ungrounded, I return to small joys.
Small joys, in this case pleasure and sensation.
Deliciousness can take so many forms.
A spritz of cool water on my face on a hot day. A luxuriating stretch on the floor. A steaming mug of chai. I made ginger chiltepin syrup to use as sweetener, spiced and spicy, a hit of intensity.
How can I upgrade this deliciousness and add joy?
The first thing I did when I got a full day reprieve from bed rest was make a big batch of chili crisp. For me, spicy is a form of aliveness, an enlivening reminder of everything good about being embodied.
Sometimes I just need a flavor punch to shock me back into pleasure.
Your mileage may vary, but the important thing is not the particular delivery system of deliciousness, it is the act of seeking what is delicious to you.
When I am having a stay-in-bed day, I can also find deliciousness in reading recipes, or a really good poem.
Words are delicious to me. Laughter is delicious.
Speaking of delicious, can we talk about the Italian word for jewelry box?
This is from Jhumpa Lahiri in Whereabouts:
“Portagioie, the Italian word for jewelry box, is a compound of two polyvalent words. Gioia (pl. gioie) means both “joy” and “jewel.” Porta, meanwhile, derives from the Latin verb portāre, and belongs to a constellation of words pertaining to acts of bearing, bringing, carrying, and transporting, which in turn give rise to terms for “door,” “gate,” and “port.” Portagioie, therefore, could also be interpreted, in Italian, not only as a box of jewels, but a container of joy, a doorway or gateway to joy, something that brings joy.”
A gateway to joy. A container for joy. A portal to the jewels.
Transport towards the port, through the portal: joy
Transporting yourself towards joy and whatever brings joy.
That is a delicious clue or series of clues to me.
There is something transcendent there. I needed this reminder that if joy feels far away, there are ways to transport myself closer.
Back to solitude and The Life Solitudinal
Jhumpa Lahiri also says:
“Solitude: it’s become my trade. As it requires a certain discipline, it’s a condition I try to perfect. And yet it plagues me, it weighs on me in spite of my knowing it so well.”
I do not try to perfect solitude. It’s simply my only option, and I do not enjoy how I feel when I think about the options that are not available to me.
But as I think about this more then yes, I do think that my relationship to solitude is vastly different than it was in 2020. And maybe it has become, if not my trade, then a place where I am at home.
Solitude has become a dwelling for me, and I am past the part where I want to fix aesthetic things like small cracks because right now I want to admire the beams. A roof over my head is not nothing.
Solitude is a structure, and I am grateful to have a structure. Also it turns out I really like this structure. Who knew.
This month I learned about the word ‘latibulate’, it’s from the 17th century and it apparently means to hide in a corner to escape reality, or until things improve.
To hide oneself in a corner. English does not have enough reflexive verbs but here we can feel the reflexive nature of this, the curling-up-ness, I love it.
I have also seen this as latibulize, even better, and more fun to say.
To retire into
To latibulize: To retire into a den or hole, and lie dormant in winter.
So there are elements of hibernation, retreat, rest, recovery, waiting, and yes, solitude.
Is it chrysalis-like? It might be.
Solitude as a container for transformation, solitude as a resting place, solitude is where nothing needs to happen but many things can happen, over time.
Shhhhh, we’re latibulating.
I love labitulating and latibulize.
I love something that is both quiet and peaceful as well as transformative, like a slow, gentle, meditative movement practice, for example.
Or going for a meandering walk when I have energy to walk. Or baking.
Or making green chili cauliflower potato stew, something I am looking forward to returning to as the weather grows cooler.
Slowly arriving at realizations about solitude and my relationship to solitude over several years of isolation might also be a form of slow cooked latibulating.
Companionship in a world of words
Latibulating is a good reminder for me.
It’s a terrific word for a No Bones Day, and the more I think about, the more I see it’s also a word that wants to be a companion to both Solitude and Portagioie.
Let us get cozy and hide out until things improve (if/when).
Let’s cozy up inside this solitude, open the portholes, welcome in joy, peek out and find joy.
What am I up to, in this cozy corner? This cozy corner that is my tiny house on wheels at the edge of the forest, this cozy corner of late August, this cozy corner of resting, a cozy corner in space and time…
What am I up to? Latibulating, portside.
What am I up to? Persisting, bravely. Alive, right here, right now.
Shocking myself back to life with spices, tending to myself with sweetness.
Who am I doing this with? Myself and my selves, and of course in a broader sense, in community, with you and everyone reading this.
I love you, let’s keep going
Latibulation as an act of solitude, and also a shared experience.
I keep coming back to this: it is brave and beautiful to keep on keeping on, even when I am unable to see the bravery or the beauty.
Let’s rest into the slow, steady shifting of things that need to be shifted, ride into what’s next.
As the post-it note by my bed says: I love you. Let’s keep going.
I’m currently working on bonus material about how I relate to time and map out my quarters, and am pretty sure I have all the parts that I think are important, is there anything you want to know more about specifically?
Drop any questions or thoughts here…
And! Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary (see below) this summer will get these by email as soon as I finish editing them…
Come play in the comments, I love company!
Share anything sparked for you while reading, or add anything you’d like to into the pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship helps.
If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this coming year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, slow going.
I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.
And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️