“Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough, a way of living in advance through a trauma that prepares you for a future of radical transformation.” -Cherrie Moraga
There are days when despite our best efforts, stuff, systems and relationships break down. Early morning, I listen for election results. The progressive movement that inspired the country a couple short years ago seems all but lost, broken at best. Having already seen the fiasco of sharing power in our government, I search for optimism on how we can move forward. My search doesn’t last long when I was faced with a more immediate breakdown. With barely three minutes to the start of my radio hour, I discover that my headset would not pick up the Skype signal from the station. Several tense moments later, the engineer was able to get me out of the woods, but not without a significant loss in adrenal energy. Breakdowns are never convenient and often they are the source of panic.
Over the panic, I discover that my computer has a crack across the diameter of the screen. A new quieter panic overcomes me, searching my mind for how or when it could have been damaged. I learn it is a manufacturer default, but still how do I part with my computer for a 5 day fix? I juggle all the possible scenarios and cannot quite see a way out.
Then my iPod dies. I am not addicted to music like my kids, so it is not quite a full on panic, just another thing that will need time and attention to resolve.
The material breakdowns are small as the one between co-workers today took up all the space in my center. It has been a long time since I was faced with someone that refused my apologies, who was not interested in repairing the relationship. After three apologies, on the phone, in email and in person, I did all I could do and still it wasn’t enough. Holding onto emotional breakdowns where resolution is not forthcoming is for me the most challenging breakdown of all. The rest are inconveniences that take up time that I wish I was using for something else. Breakdowns in relationships sit in me like a 10 pound rock. They fill my center with dread. They make it hard for me to be clear or even to see the world around me.
The experience brought me back to my childhood, where every argument had this left over feeling that nothing was every really forgiven or forgotten. It is impossible to live safely in relationships like these and I imagine for the one who can’t let go, it isn’t much better. Still the breakthrough for me was witnessing myself hold it, without the urge to do something, without the urgency to force it to be right.
I know from this quest that running away from the experience only makes it follow me and that when I am open to feeling and dealing with even the most difficult and challenging parts of myself that they become transformed. It is painful because it is how we sculpt ourselves into the best part of what we can be. Each opening, every holding on, each letting go chips away at all the baggage that was never really ours. Even the stuff we acquire, its all just on loan.