I feel pretty exhausted by all the noise and clamour of recent events surrounding our exit from the EU. The unedifying behaviour of our political leaders in the run up to the vote, that has continued into the subsequent leadership contests, and all of the fallout whipped up in the tornado-like frenzy of the media.
A week after the decision to exit I was in my usual early Friday evening spot in my local pub (a few hundred metres from my front door), waiting for a pizza and having a drink with a buddy of mine, a wise and reasonable man. He voted differently from me and insisted on telling me why and how optimistic he was about the future. To be honest it was my fault the subject even came up. To his question, “how has your week been?” I couldn’t stop myself from saying I had been a ‘remainer’ and was feeling more than a bit sad…so I created the opening for a conversation I didn’t want to have, and then stayed silent in the face of his measured insistence when I could have spoken up. As a consequence I trudged home wearier than when I had arrived.
Amongst ‘friends’ on Facebook there was a noisy clamour of passionate indignation of how we are all going to hell in a handcart, followed by earnest requests to sign petitions and the like. I couldn’t bring myself to respond/join in/like the contributions or anything else; the result was more exhaustion plus now I was feeling like a fraud and a coward for not being up for a fight myself.
This isn’t a reflection on the people above, articulate or clumsy, compelling or righteous, they were all just making their stand. It is much more a reflection on me, and my relationship to what is happening around me. I am not a natural placard-waving protester, peaceful or otherwise but I am full of gnawing emotion. It isn’t coursing through my veins but instead has leeched into my muscles and fibres. I feel overwhelmed by something invisible, intangible. I will call it a malaise, by definition that general feeling of discomfort, illness, or unease whose exact cause is difficult to identify.
Whatever the cause, I think it must be necessary for me to be exhausted at this time. I have to get right to the bottom of this malaise is before I can re-surface with more energy, more compassion, more courage. Brother David Steindl-Rast (in conversation with David Whyte) said: “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest…the antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”
True, discomfortingly so, because I know I haven’t been wholehearted in my response to these recent events, or as Brene Brown might put it, I haven’t really shown up and let myself be seen. I am being silent when I’m not sure I want to be, but equally I don’t want to put my head above the parapet yet. I’m afraid the ‘best’ I might have mustered would have been to tell everyone around me just to SHUT UP for a while but Rumi put it rather better in saying:
“Sit down and be quiet.
You are drunk, and this is the
edge of the roof”
These are challenging times and the noise and the clamour now is for direction, clarity, decisions, certainty. I still think the answer right now is just to be quiet; be in and with silence even if just for a while. I need time to think and it isn’t until I am truly quiet that I can hear what I need to hear, a ‘still, small voice of calm’ amidst all the noise.
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