Who we are in the backwash

It’s a truism of life. The universe sometimes pulls back its energy; times when, as it were, everything seems to slow so abruptly that it feels as though all the momentum gets sucked out, the beach left bereft of water. Like after a period of several intense days of solar wind stream buffeting the planet at 650km/second (we just had that…), when those winds suddenly slow down I suspect we all at the subconscious level (though many have no idea why) feel somewhat flat by comparison. The same rhythms happen all the time in nature, in our seasons and in the routines life (the word we like to use is “anticlimax” and, with our high excitement and investment in things always “happening”, we set ourselves up to experience that thing all the time) yet we tend to think the flatter, slower, more vacuous moments are an excuse for generating even more movement and speed.

For we fear the void and what it says about us, the mess, the devastation, things we don’t want to give our attention to. We dread the sense of emptiness that follows the very full…for its as though, in the wake of such formidable energy, there is a withdrawal of life force; it can even feel toxic. Yet it is more like when the fast flowing river runs dry or the massive wave withdraws from the beach, leaving so much debris behind in the sand. In other words, the situation is only toxic to the degree that the waste products of our lives have been exposed in the aftermath of the flow pulling back to reveal what was already there.

Each time it happens, we get to look at what is so starkly left behind; so, if our face is that of a “rabbit caught in the headlights” at that point, it’s because we are confronted with an unsightly mess and there is no one here but us to own it. Feelings may range from mild discomfort to white terror as we are left with none of life’s exhilaration and all of the responsibility, facing what is ours in the absence of flow.

Whether these days of energetic withdrawal present as a subtly nauseating “off” feeling or a sensation of outright alarm, our first thoughts are like a benchmark for those out-of balance things that are calling our attention. For instance, if our first assumption is that we “must” be feeling so horrible because of our work, that says something about the work that we do; and it is not the void that is the issue here but all the day-to-day denial that goes on for the rest of the time.  That “debris” left stranded on our own personal “beach” on a day that should otherwise feel void is calling our attention as the very next thing in our life that needs to be reconfigured or even removed altogether. This scattered debris is made up of all those things we shove conveniently out of sight (like throwing litter in the ocean) thinking it is big enough to swallow all that we don’t want to give our attention to…until these things, inevitably, came back to haunt us on the tide. The more we work on making our lives align with who we really are, the less debris we find washed up on the beach when life’s tide pulls out. One day we may even reach a point when the beach is pristine; there’s not a thing that shouldn’t be there or from which we recoil and that feels like the moment we’ve been waiting for. Its neutrality tells us that we have reached a truly zen-like place; one that we found our way to by noticing all the other days when there was debris lying in the sand….for, bit by bit (instead of covering our eyes), we owned it or we dissolved it away appropriately.

Because the more we notice…and feel disturbed by…what is left behind by the backwash, the more invested we become in “cleaning up our act”. Individually and collectively, we start to think about what we throw into the flow, knowing it doesn’t just dissolve but, rather, always comes back as the unbiodegradable plastic waste polluting the water of life.

pablo-torres-276163When we stop littering the flow by taking responsibility for our lives, dealing with debris as it happens, we allow for the rhythm of the universe to happen without moments (or long periods…) of feeling rising panic, dread or terrible despair in the void. When that curtain gets pulled back on those days and we find a version of ourselves sitting in the control room of our lives, we want to be able to look that aspect of ourselves squarely in the eyes; the mirror of all mirrors. When we have done the work, there is no mountain of rubbish to get in the way of such a moment; no lifetime’s collection of disowned moments that fill us with uncomfortable feelings, none of the pointlessly accumulated titles, roles and possessions we have tried to define ourselves by, nor any of those accolades or praises we courted thinking we needed them so badly in order to feel like we exist…none of that remains. When the flow takes its pause, we want to see ourselves clearly, without all those trappings.

So really, these moment of so-called flatness, the aftermath of something else, times when there is no wind left to propel our boat, periods when we might doubt our very purpose or our point (really we are the point) present as a golden opportunity for self-realisation and growth, like a life-review…a pit stop…time to reappraise. Time comes when we get to say “Oh, it’s just a backwash kind-of-a day…the energy has gone out of my project, the wind out of my sails…so I’ll just lay back where I am for a while and enjoy the sun, rain or wind on my face”. Then, when the flow of life returns with all its vibrance and force, the waters will be even more pristine, sparkling and potential-filled than ever. When we no longer rely upon the feeling of ceaseless movement to feel whole but find ourselves even more whole in the stillness, that is when we know we have reached the place we were always heading to in such a hurry, only we found we got there much quicker by standing still.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. Her blog Living Whole shines a light on living with high sensitivity, dealing with trauma and healing from chronic health issues. Spinning the Light is an extremely broad-based platform where she elucidates the everyday alchemy of relentless self-exploration. A lifetime of "feeling like an outsider" slowly emerged as neurodivergence (being a Highly Sensitive Person with ADHD, synaesthesia, sensory processing challenges and other defecits overlapping with giftedness). All of these topics are covered in her blogs, written from two distinct vantage points so, if you have enjoyed one of them, you may wish to explore the other for a different, yet entirely complimentary, perspective.
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2 Responses to Who we are in the backwash

  1. So true Helen, those ‘voids’ can be uncomfortable times. Interesting that the world has so much information and activity packed into it now that I wonder how often those growing up now will experience those voids – and how much more uncomfortable it will be when they do.

    Liked by 1 person

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