“The angina tablet was already doing its work, the tightness in his chest was retreating, the tingling in his arm had gone, and though some wild internal disorder beyond medicine remained in his quaking soul he felt well enough to return from the hotel bathroom to the bedroom.”
Richard Flanagan, from “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”
Let’s face it, life can be so difficult at times that a bit of self-medication can allow us to get through the day. The inference from the Flanagan quote is that the masking of the problem with prescription or non-prescription drugs or alcohol or, even, hanging out in the garden directly munching broccoli, is never a cure.
It does help, however. And who can blame anyone for doing what they do to ease the pain. I suppose what we have to ask is whether or not the actions we take to lessen the torment also lessens our ability to do the Work required to make the world (or, on a smaller scale, our personal lives) a happier place for ourselves and everyone.
When my soul quakes, I prefer to go to the veggie patch or elsewhere into nature and become — for a moment — distracted by the inherent beauty so richly abundant in all that grows. The minutia of life always astounds and helps settle whatever is troubling.
Inside the trees, where tomorrow
hides along with years, tomorrow
stirs. And there my sisters
never born touch lips to bark
and begin to sing:
Brother of Air, Brother of Sun,
please tell our story, that we
may live in the brief wind.
Wherever I stand I hear the trees
petition so. By listening
I know I’m born. By turning
the forest back toward itself
I live as a friend of trees:
Listen together; be ready.
You may be born. I touch the bark
and call deep as I can:
Part of me.
And so I do what I can to stem the flow of incapacitating emotions and get on with the job of carving sculptures that can help tell the stories of the trees, the stones, water and wind.