I must confess the title for this post comes from a book I haven’t read but have heard about. The concept of “This too shall pass,” I’m really struggling with. Someone said people respond to our truth so that’s what I’m writing about, what’s true for me. Even if it feels like it’s the same damn thing over and over again.
It became clear to me recently I have something similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. Whenever there are loud noises in my apartment or near my apartment, I go into a full-on panic. I start shaking, my heart starts beating faster and I am consumed with fear. Whenever I complain about hearing the pulse of music in the house below me the responses are invariably, “Have you tried earplugs? Or your white noise machine?” And “You can blare your own music!” I appreciate the sentiments, but really all I want is empathy. Because the super low pulse of bass cannot be drowned out. When the noise is a low, steady thumping, it gets into your body like a heartbeat. There’s a reason people have used drums for war calls – the sound travels across great distances.
Life is like a little boat upon the sea. . .
So instead of being able to do anything about it, I have to sit and listen to the damn noise until it’s turned off. And as I listen to it I start to chant like a mantra, “This too shall pass, this too shall pass. This is temporary. I won’t be here much longer. It will stop.” I know with utmost certainty this keeps happening to me because this issue is begging to be healed. It may not seem like it to other people but it was really traumatic not being able to sleep for five months because of loud music and other noises in my former apartment. This thing with noise keeps happening to me because I haven’t dealt with the issue – instead I keep running from one place to another hoping this time it will be better. It is usually better but I still get triggered.
In the interim, I have to keep reminding myself no storm lasts forever. I had an acute awareness of the transience of my situation on Friday night. I took a shower and the water pooled around my feet three inches deep. This has happened to me before. I chronicled it in my book in a chapter called, “The Sublet from Hell.” At the same time I started rewatching “Felicity,” a show that was on in 1998. When “Felicity” was on the air in 1998 I was mostly depressed, fantasizing about the day I would have numerous friends who lived nearby. Wishing for a time someone would call me up to hang out. The confluence of these two events – showering in a pool of water and rewatching “Felicity” – reminded me how different my live is now and also how temporary. These days I have what I dreamed about, and I lived through a situation that was also unbearable at the time. In that moment I really felt the impermanence of my situation. I felt centered in the truth no storm lasts forever.
This is an important lesson because when I’m in pain I think I’ll be in pain forever. I go to a negative place and don’t believe things will ever change. Even if I know intellectually that’s not true, my subconscious or whatever it is, takes over and I don’t believe it. All I can think about is how I’m in pain and isn’t it terrible, and “nothing will ever change.” It’s important for me to cling onto my boat and ride the waves because in truth, no storm lasts forever.
I dream of a world where we grasp how impermanent every situation is. Even if it’s longer term, it will also pass. Nothing is constant in life except change. I dream of a world where we ride through each situation, where as Winston Churchill says, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” A world where we understand as long as it may seem, no storm lasts forever.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.