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But You Also Eat Jello

By Joanne Hunt

There is a new voice that I am writing with these days. It is a voice that has a louder baritone hum. It has no falsetto. It is an unnerving new sound. Lower. Wider. Slower. I don't recognize it yet.

I'm an Enneagram Four with strong preferences for drama, melancholy and romance. I have fabulous highs and can have wild low periods and I have mostly written from the intense rollercoaster of that ride. I have been broken and bloodied. Writing from that place has had so much juice. It is also a powerful flame for living. Burn bright, burn strong, burn out, baby! This was the mantra of a corporate group where I worked during what feels, at the moment, like a different life. Was that really me?

The times are different now. A lower flame. Not so fierce. I am emerging on to a previously unseen mesa. Less rock and roll. More Tibetan flute. Less fire and wildness. Oh, the passion is still there but it has a different hum. There is more silence and sitting and equanimity. What the hell is going on?

My handwriting has slowed down and it is not so feverish. There is a deliberate, steady, quiet voice is emerging. I watch feelings arise, see places where I long to crank it up, turn the flame up under the emotions a bit and then I laugh and think, "Why bother?" It is just fine as it is. Right here. Right now. This is a little less juice than I'm used to and much more peace than I ever thought I'd feel in this particular lifetime.

I have been studying with Natalie Goldberg over the last few years and during my last writing retreat with her, she spoke with us about our sitting practice and that if we learn to sit with our darkness, we integrate it and then our writing becomes integrated too. She said, "You will always carry your darkness with you but you will also eat Jello." I will always carry this passionate and dramatic me wherever I go. And I am not only that.I will always carry this intensity and I am not only that.

We can tend to put ourselves into only one category saying things like "I'm so tired" but we may also be able to say "and I am happy." Things are so busy and I have five free minutes right now. Things are really difficult and some things aren't.

Often, at about this time of year, students in our Certification Module are really stretched. They have been working so hard for three months and they have six more months to go. It can be a difficult moment at this point in the nine months. They are "tired." And they can start defining themselves by that one variable. And I want to be able to say to them, "You are tired. Yes. And what else?" It is in the 'what else' that we find things like: I woke up this morning with the love of my life. I had the best meeting this afternoon with a really warm human being. My sandwich at lunch today was fantastic. The elevator ride this morning was a riot because someone had a freshly baked cinnamon bun and everyone could smell it and we all started giggling when one man in a brown bowler hat commented, "that smells good enough to kill for" and we all knew what he meant. That short ride had me laughing before I even got to my desk. Oh, and on the bus, I saw this little girl help her grandmother step down the last stair to the street so tenderly that it broke my heart wide open.

And then there are those around us: our friends, our colleagues, our clients. Yes, she has this pain or that pain but she also eats chocolate fudge brownies with walnuts. Yes, he is a successful, stressed-out Vice-President, but he also likes Oreo cookies dipped in a glass of 2% milk before bed each night.

Yes, you're tired but try for a week to not use that word. There is always another perspective, a wider view, a more inclusive picture. What else are you? And do you like Jello?

© Joanne Hunt

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