"Step aside from it," I thought this morning. "Step aside, just a little. One step; just one step."
One step away from whatever ails and hounds you. One step towards LIFE. One step is a stay. One breath is a stay.
One step is a choice. So often, if we have been ill or injured for a long time, we feel stuck ... like an inverted November sky that refuses to move. But above that mass of grey is the sun; beyond the mass is clarity. Beneath the mass, inside your own body, is an open atmosphere: your breath. One breath is a step. One breath is a stay. One...breath. One...breath...and another. One breath at a time. Sometimes I lie down on my bed, laying one hand over my heart and another over my solar plexus. I breathe. Inbreath: "One..." Outbreath: "...breath." My body begins to warm, to pulse. Sometimes I do this to remind myself to stay; sometimes I do it because my body forgets to breathe. My autonomic nervous system has been kiboshed since I was born, and many of the most basic regulatory functions and systems are out of whack -- one being breathing. I have to remind myself to breathe several times a day. Breathe ... Stay ... Breathe ... Stay.
My dear physician, a few years ago, referred to the form my depression takes as "brainstem depression" (also known as anaclitic depression). It's been with me since infancy ... and I have to tend to the absolute basics: body temperature, breath, appetite, movement. "One step at a time" keeps me alive. "One stay at a time" reminds -- re-minds -- me to stay alive ... one step at a time away from shutdown, from paralysis, from the terrible force within my own brain that compels me to leave.
One step is a shift. One step is an act. One step is volition -- will -- moving you in another direction.
A single step. Sometimes a single step for me means that I wash one dish. It can mean that I run a hand along my cat's silken back, or smush my face into his belly, murmuring his name. It can mean grabbing one of my holy books and reading, for dear life, a poem whose beauty latches me to Life. Sometimes it means allowing myself to weep. It can be prayer -- simply a Help ... Are you there? Touch me; move me ... please. Give me a reason to stay. Often, the response from life is so simple: Eat. Nuzzle your cats. Give yourself music. Pick up the phone. Skype someone. Weep. Count your blessings, one at a time, slowly. Count them again. Know you are loved! Know it ... know it. You are still here because you have been loved. You are still here because you have loved. Tuck yourself into bed and turn on the warming blanket that your cousin gave you last Christmas. Grab a pillow; grab the teddy bear you've had forever whose nose and one eye have been repaired and replaced by someone who's loved you. Grab on.
We are not asked to take big steps or small steps, but we are asked
to make every step a step of faith.
(The Bible, Romans 4:12)
One step ... one song. Here is one of my stay-songs:
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
(Rainer Maria Rilke)
Give Life your hand.
Stay, dear heart.