Yesterday morning I realized I was cracking up.
Out running I reached the point of drenched detachment at which I could look at the last few weeks, and it wasn’t pretty. The weight of everything – political vitriol, conspiracy theories, denial of science, and overdue awareness of racial injustice – was keeping me up at night. I’d gotten used to the tightness in my chest and monologue of rebuttals to hateful Facebook memes rattling through my head.
Every disagreement seemed catastrophic and triggered compulsive thoughts of past wrongs. If I didn’t make my point forcefully and loudly everything could fall apart, as if it hadn’t already. I had to figure out a way to calm myself. It made me wonder if the local retreat house had an urgent care unit.
I write all this in past tense as if I’ve entirely recovered in 36 hours. The truth is yesterday’s revelation was followed by a comically bad day during which the 2 hours I spent on the phone with the IRS wasn’t close to the worst part. Perhaps it was my refiner’s fire and I’ll be ready to be different after. Either way I felt a little burned.
After vocal warm-ups today I started paging through books of music, singing through pieces I knew a bit or not at all. Nothing felt comfortable; I couldn’t quite get my voice warmed up, and I needed to for the vigil mass.
Since it’s the Assumption, I started mindlessly singing through the Salve Regina. I’ve sung it enough time I barely think as I sing. It means a lot to me. One measured note at a time, each syllable forming long phrases, the phrases combining into an ancient prayer.
I know that’s the only way to survive these days: deep breaths followed by one note at a time.