Late last week I got to spend a few awesome if too-short hours visiting my friend Alexandra.
It was the first time we’d seen each other in years due to living a sizeable portion of the globe apart, but we’d managed to keep close nevertheless. Our recent conversations were the inspiration for this blog, as we share similar spiritual beliefs but also both have very few people we feel comfortable discussing those things with, and being able to talk to her in person was like coming up for air after being held down underwater until my lungs felt crushed. Between that and the fact that she’s someone I’ve cared about deeply for many years, and that we were able to slip right back into being close friends despite the time gap – even swapping books during the visit – our visit left me feeling better than I had in recent memory.
As I put it to her late into the night, it’s a novelty for me to feel happy and hopeful.
I figured it wouldn’t take long for the pessimism and negativity of the last few years to creep back in. Going back into the same setting where much of the negativity is centered made that seem inevitable. But what I didn’t realize was how stealthily it would creep back in. I’ve let it become so lodged inside my inner spaces, my hermitage, that I hadn’t even realized that despite seeing Alexandra, the door was still wide open and the negativity and depressions were stalking me around with me only barely realizing it.
Don’t bother. It’s pointless. It won’t go anywhere anyway.
What makes you think you can be hopeful? Nothing’s going to change.
And on and on it went with me hardly noticing because such thoughts have become so common. But then I thought . . .
Your visit with Alexandra wasn’t real. It never happened.
What? That’s a new one.
Suddenly I was taking more notice of what was going through my head. Why would something in my brain think it never happened? Of course it happened. I have the pictures and books to prove it!
That’s not what I meant. It was an illusion. It will all fall apart. Your new “quest”. Your friendship. It won’t last and sooner or later you’ll be back to where you were before. You’ll say or do something to disappoint Alexandra or get her angry with you and that will be the end of your friendship. And while you’re at it you’ll give up on this whole spiritual thing again.
The negativity and depression were going to double down, it seemed. So I figured I should double down on my determination.
Today, doubling down meant that I unboxed. Two boxes specifically: first, the box of books of Alexandra’s that I brought home, which were still boxed because twelve hours after I left our visit I turned around and headed away again to spend the weekend watching my nephews. I took out each book one at a time, flipped through it, wrote my name in the them and the date she gave them to me, along with her name as the giver. Each book picked specifically while we were sorting through what she wanted to keep and give away, each one a reminder of the interests and passions we share, and thus each one a reminder that a quarter-century of friendship after everything we’ve both been through isn’t just going to wither up and tumbleweed away at the first hot wind.
And then another symbolic unboxing: I went searching for the spirituality and metaphysical books that I’d packed up and shoved into closets amid the last few years of episodic depression and a spouse who makes fun of those beliefs. I located the first one quickly and started making space for its shelf in my bedroom, where I keep books that are particularly meaningful to me – ones that had been owned by family, ones that were written by friends, that sort of thing. I emptied the box and started stacking the books for all to see, plus adding in some of the spirituality books Alexandra just gave me.
I’m now thinking carefully about where I want to start reading. I’ve always been a fan of Edgar Cayce, but the Sleeping Prophet doesn’t seem quite right just now. I always got a lot out of Jane Roberts’ Seth books, but those tend towards being incredibly deep and dense, and starting with them feels like relearning how to swim by jumping off a boat into the ocean out of sight of land. One good place to start, though, feels like Ruth Montgomery, the Washington D.C. journalist-turned-channeler who was always hard-nosed about using her intellect to challenge the messages her Guides were bringing her.
(I’m also partial to Ruth Montgomery because it was her book Aliens Among Us that introduced me to the Cherokee medicine man who lived two miles down the road from my college, leading to our being friends the last four years of his life.)
There are also a couple of possibilities that aren’t directly related to metaphysics. I’ve been eyeing The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk whose autobiography inadvertently sent a wave of young mid-20th century Americans rushing to monasteries. And sitting right next to me is Moments of Reprieve, Primo Levi’s memoir about his time in Auschwitz.
I’ll admit that I’ve never read either of those, but the messages in both are calling to me – and the positivity I’m trying to maintain – in a big way.