Moving Between Ground and Sky.
Eight years ago I started this blog with a post about my introduction to apartment life. Now I'm standing on the cusp between two lives, as I prepare to move home again in ten day's time.
Anyone familiar with my journey will know that living in my current home hasn't been easy. It has however been a succinct teacher, illuminating me to the most difficult aspects of my own nature; parts of me that had disappeared into the background as white noise, barely audible under the cacophony of the external dramas in my life. As the fallout from my second divorce slowly—too slowly—ebbed away, I began to realise that the angry situations invoked by my marriages were just tips of the tongues of angry flames that went way back in time. I was left with myself, intolerant and angry—triggered by the sounds around me.
Although it has been a difficult environment to live in, I feel like I've been through a major period of personal and creative development. When I moved here I was focussed on creating a simpler life, so that I could finish the book I had been working on for a decade. But the environment I found myself in hardly seemed conducive, triggering moods that made writing in the genre of mind/body/spirit feel difficult—even fraudulent. But something about reaching my middle forties steeled my determination to build the writer's life I had always anticipated.
Eventually I learnt how to write through the mess of triggers that seemed to assault me all day long: Harleys, hoons, truck engine brakes, dogs, stilettos overhead, domestic violence overhead, the sound of pissing and flushing overhead, the sound of everyone's pizza deliveries and visitors being buzzed through the front door, and the sound of the comings and goings of every other resident through paper thin walls. It's been horrendous, but I knew I had to write my way through it, no matter how mad I felt at the (now bankrupt and trading under a new name) builder.
Admittedly, I was assisted by a doctor who prescribed me the first medication that didn't give me seizures. I dislike pills, but I have to admit, since I've been taking them, life has been easier and more balanced than ever before. I have a sleep routine, and even find myself yawning and ready for bed at 11pm. I wake naturally at 8am every day. This might seem like small stuff, but after forty-three years of insomnia and disturbed sleep, it's been life changing. I've learnt that, as helpful as it is, meditation isn't always enough when anxiety is high—and a little medication can go a long way.
Of course I still use meditation on a daily basis to help me to regulate the background noise of anxiety, but like my domestic life, my meditation practice is more simple now. My current favourite is the image of a blue balloon. I just hold the image in my mind, at eye level, and keep it there. As my mind tries to distract me with other things, I keep coming back to the blue balloon. Sometimes it wants to float away into the sky, and other times it wants to deflate and sink to the ground. My task is to hold the image still. This simple practice is helping me to stay steady as I straddle two worlds.
When I say straddling two worlds, I mean it literally. Many daily tasks I undertake contain two sets of visuals. For example, when I open my washing machine in my present life, I can also see myself opening the washing machine in my new home. It's like my mind has split into two frames. This might sound distracting, but it's actually a great state of consciousness for planning. It means that when I get there, I'll basically know where everything goes.
When I chose my current apartment back in 2014, I didn't even look at the upper floors. I thought that someone prone to 'spaceyness' like me needed to be grounded. So in January 2022, when I ascended in the lift of a new apartment building, I wasn't seriously considering living on an upper floor. But then I walked through the front door, and my perception began to change.
Rather than feeling like I was suspended up in the air with my roots helplessly spiralling, I felt like I had walked into a cocoon. The noises outside in the hall receded as the door closed, and I walked around the apartment—my curiosity piqued. Even the noise of the traffic below was a distant hum that disappeared as soon as the patio door was closed.
So here I am on the cusp of my new life, hoping that my new home is as quiet as it seemed on the days I went inside. I feel reassured by the knowledge that each floor is separated by concrete, rather than the timber and plaster separating the floors between my current block of apartments. Best of all, by getting off the ground I can swap my yard for a separate study that can embrace my expanding writing life.
In spite of the difficulties of experiencing what I have learnt is called misophonia, the techniques I've adopted to screen out these auditory terrors provided me with another bonus: my attention was focussed on my inner world—the place where the words are! So in spite of the noise, I'm pleased with the life I've built here. I realise that I've always struggled with certain noises, and perhaps that isn't going to go away. But I'm hopeful that being elevated above the ground noise will help to reduce the madness a little.
Although I haven't been working on my memoir lately, I'm feeling energy and momentum building within me; I trust it will bound out when I settle into my new place. I hope that leaving the ground invokes many flights of consciousness that enrich my future work. I hope I've found the right mix of writing and teaching classes, without losing my sense of life balance. Going forward, teaching belly dance and tarot remain an important part of my life and my connection to the community. The physical and spiritual practices involved also help me to balance the cerebral world of word-crafting. Soon I'll be developing a new meditation workshop that I can move around with my box of books. So if you don't want to miss out on these events, sign up here.
Stay creative. X
Leanne Margaret © 2022