My ears are ringing. The house is so quiet I can hear the airplanes flying over head, the water dribbling through the fish tank filter, and the ringing in my ears.
It occurred to me while writing my morning pages this morning that if there were anything else going on in this house — my son awake and calling for my attention, a conversation with my husband, the TV playing even just for background noise, or if I had put on one of my morning podcasts — if any of these normal morning activities had already begun, then I wouldn’t hear my ears ringing.
So what? you may ask. What’s the big deal? you may wonder.
Maybe it’s nothing. In fact, it’s probably nothing. When ringing ears are a real problem, they are no longer ignore-able (believe me, I know this hell). When something is really wrong with your insides, your body finds a way to take center stage.
But, my thinking this morning was about not waiting until then. My thinking this morning is about knowing all that is going on with me before the system shuts itself down — physically, mentally, and emotionally.
This was on my mind because when I walked out to the living room this morning and heard the low rumble of The Today Show on the television as I walked by to get my morning pages notebook, I found myself throwing my arms up and almost hissing like a vampire exposed to sun. It was half comedic and half involuntary. You see, I have stopped starting my day with the news. And, I’ll admit, when I first stopped it there was a lot of guilt attached to it — was I turning my back on the world’s problems? Have I turned into some sort of ostrich who thrusts her head in the sand? After an entire adulthood of literally waking up to the news (my alarm was the wake up setting on my TV, set to NBC with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer’s voices bringing me into every day), I felt like I might be regressing to a child-like state waking up without it.
I think today is the day I finally release any lingering parts of that guilt, because I finally get it.
Just like ringing ears that demand to be heard when something internally is really wrong, my soul screamed out last year in a desperate plea for attention. A lot had been going on, some of it I blogged about and other things I did not. I thought I was facing everything, but the truth was I was never finding the quiet space where I could actually hear what was happening because, every single day I opened my eyes and started absorbing everything going on outside of me. It always seemed like the right thing to do, to start my day with eyes outward, looking for the places I could serve — whether in a global sense, or just with my family. What do you need? was a question my soul always projected. And I would work extremely hard puzzling out how I could make it happen.
Even if it was impossible. Even if it was largely out of my scope. I would mentally tinker over problems too large for me to tackle. I always felt a great responsibility to contribute. But, with all that mental noise I couldn’t hear that my soul had started ringing out for herself, not until I felt so weak and confused and sad that I started to feel helpless. I started looking around at all of the external and instead of asking What do you need? I starting saying I can’t help. I can’t do anything. These are sad words for a soul to speak.
So I started shutting the news off in the morning, not out of some great self-reflection, but out of defeat. But then, in the quiet, my soul whispered a new question, What do I need?
It seems like a tiny change, but it was monumental. It was also familiar. I had been down that path before — when I was so sick with IIH, in such pain and with my vision so impaired that I could do nothing but heal — I had asked that question then. And I believe that made all the difference.
While I am sure the question has tons and tons of answers each and every single day, at this year’s BookCon I inadvertently picked up a gift for myself to ensure I keep answering it — a little sign that says, “Create a nice moment for yourself at least once a day.”
I can not even tell you what booth I found it in. There were a stack of these on a counter at closing time on Sunday, as I was walking out the door. I had kept my promise to myself to not grab tons and tons of free swag and books this year, but this little guy called to me, so I grabbed a couple. When I came home, I put it up in my windowsill right above my kitchen sink where I wash my dishes. Every single day I am reminded of me. It’s kind of funny that I need the reminder, but I do. And it’s working, because now I always stop to hear the ringing.