7 ways to Stay In-tension

I sat with my heart last night.  I sat with it in-tension.

In that space in between the in-between spaces of your body.  That space you wish someone would just do an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom number on you because at least someone ripping your heart out through your chest would mean it would be gone.  Instead the tension feels more like how I once saw someone kill an octopus they had just fished out of the sea by sticking their hand in the middle and pulling it inside out.

I’m talking that kind of tension.

My friend said stay with it.  Be in tension.

Yeah, ok, super easier said than done.  But I can’t play hide-and-seek with that pulsating astriction any longer.  So in that space, between excruciating pain for feeling and complete gratitude for feeling, I sat with my heart in tension intending: I will learn from this.  I will not forever be turned into an inside out octopus.

Instead, I will treat my tension like a wise weary traveler, who I know has epic tales and the need for a hot shower and good meal.  And so, when you see him, looking at you strangely out of the corner of your eye, stay in-tension.

  1. When the tension makes eye contact, don’t look away. Sink your eyes into it and get a good grasp on the idea that yes, it is here.  Know that it’s not going anywhere even if you roll your eyes and give it the ol’ see-you-later wave.  It’s still there, two steps below, just teeming in the dermis, waiting for you to acknowledge its existence.
  1. Don’t shoot the messenger. Sit with it because it is you.  Feeling pain is, well, painful.  But sometimes pruning your fingers in tension is what is needed.  Your tension is not inherently bad…it simply is. This scout is here to tell you that something is in (dis)ease so listen to its call.  A punch to the gut fairs better than a 2 x 4 to the face.
  1. Just breathe. You know why everyone says this too shall pass when they don’t know what else to say?  Because sometimes that’s all there is.  Your breath and your pain.  You can drink it out, party it out, flirt it out, sex it out, work it out, drug it out, and all the other outs you want to submerge yourself in but when you wake up, glaze-eyed, messy-haired, smacking around that scuzzy tongue, you’ll role over to see tension waiting for you right where you tried to ditch it.
  1. Stay with it for a while. Instead of giving creepy old tension a disgusted look and pretending it’s not there, invite it for a sit down, buy it a drink, and ask it to tell you its wildest dreams.  Sometimes all it wants is to tell its story. Comment on its new crazy hairdo, ask it about the weather, whatever.  Just get the conversation going.  Like a little kid who finally breaks the silent game, your tension has a lot to say.  And can you blame it, holding back all those wonderful gossipy tales? Pain helps us grow.  Not in a way that is pretty or ugly, but more like pure, expansive matter.
  1. Ask to see its map and tell you a good traveler story. Tension is an epic way warder, moving through your emotional and physical landscapes.  If you ask, it will show you its atlas.  It’ll trace its journey through your body, telling you of worlds unseen yet known.
  1. Ask it how its compass can guide you. Where can it lead you?    In-tension is not frilly or promised.  It is instead holding that space, knowing that the darkest times are when our hearts stretch the most so we can hear our true north. In-tension is where there is nowhere else to go, where we accept where we are because we no longer look at  denial cross-eyed.  At some point you just have to slowly walk up to the foaming beast of tension on all fours and begin to gently massage its ears.
  1. Give it an epic high five (I prefer the jellyfish). Thank it for the chat.  Recognize it did a total Lord of the Rings journey just to bring you a small treasure, a way for you to move forward in your life.  Gratitude moves you through.

Setting the intention to be in-tension not only takes courage but creates it.  To sit with pain, heartache, and grief is part of healing.  So tie yourself to the mast and navigate through those blasted sirens.  They are singing you the secrets of your own insides.  And maybe it won’t be as crash-the-ship as you think.  Maybe it’ll help you find a different path home.

What’s it like to explore your in-tension?

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5 Epic Universal Failures to Inspire Your Day (Complete with Theme Song Playlist)

The universe as we know it engages in failures of gargantuan proportion, and when I say gargantuan, I’m talking 90 percent species failure here. Epic…Universal…Failures. They beget excessive struggle for the duration while yielding a meh, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t final story line.  Regardless, the defacto by-product is always never-seen-before change.

So as an ode to Epic Universal Failures, the following list means to inspire in a failure-is-the-only-way-to-recreate-the-world kind of way, where surrender to the saga is the universal process.  In no particular order, may the countdown commence (complete with your very own Epic Universal Failures theme song playlist).

1. The Permian-Triassic Extinction

Theme song: The Firebird Suite, Finale by Stravinsky

Misadventure: Think your world is falling apart?  Try telling that to the Permian-Triassic extinction, known to many scientists as one of the earth’s tough times, possibly the toughest.  Maybe a comet, maybe a volcano, maybe both, but whatever did the job 250 million years ago dissipated 90 percent of life then known on the planet.  We’re talking 95 percent of sea animals, 60 percent of land animals, and virtually all trees wiped away.

The Good News:  We made it!  Well earth did, and although this was not the last of devastating chaos on the planet, it still rotates full of life.  And here we are, post mega-annums, reading about this from the etherwebs on a mobile robotic mini-brain. You truly have to concentrate on the incomprehensible to even micro-understand that at some point in history the majority of life on the planet withered to extinction because earth just happened to be standing in the way of projectile space rock.

2. The Collapse of the Roman Empire

Theme Song: Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division

Misadventure:  Whether weak states, too many invasions, or simply a stronger Eastern block, Rome did not continue its glory of engulfing all it walked through.  So when all roads no longer led to Rome, I’m sure there were mixed feelings.  Good ol’ 472-476 AD, the end of the Western Roman Empire, shows that failure will get even the strongest of Roman-godlike intentions in the end.

The Good News: They had a good run, eating up much of what happened to be in their marching army’s path, and after that, came other things, including new world powers (eh-hem).  So the end of an empire is just that, the end of an empire.  New ones are born and new ideas and ways of living transmit through the copper pipelines.  And thanks to that little 200-year-rule shenanigan, today we have awe-inspiring architecture, some of the most beautiful languages in the world, and Russell Crowe in tiny leather outfits.

3. The Black Hole HLX-1

Theme song: Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

Misadventure:  Two galaxies collided, wiping out existing stars, and then leaving HLX-1 to inwardly collapse to the point of actually eating its own self and all else it could get its gravitational hands on. Think of 10-25 times the mass of our sun compacting again and again until it fit into the dimensions of New York City…and then it sucked, and sucked, and kept on sucking (I mean serious epic sucking failure).

The Good News:  Scientists believe that a young cluster of stars also formed as part of the whole adventure, and their age of a mere 200 million years has these astro folks convinced they came about because the others crashed.  And hey, a black hole made its debut, which is pretty friggin’ fantastic in itself. So even when galaxies crash, and black holes devour most everything else, new stars are born.

4. J.K Rowlings First 15 Times Trying to Sell Harry Potter

Theme Song: Truckin’ by Grateful Dead

Misadventure: 15 times…seriously.  After a long preamble of death, divorce, and poverty before words spilled on the page, I’m sure there was a bit of a come on guys sense of defeat.  But as J.K. Rowling says in her speech on failure at a Harvard commencement, “Rock bottom became the foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”  Good thing the Epic Universal Failure joke was on all those publishing dummies.

The Good News:  Ummm…everything that happened after she got published.  Telling Ms. Rowlings in a polite English accent that she could stick her magic curriculum you-know-where probably didn’t seem like a mistake at the time.  400 million copies later, I’m sure they now cannot hear He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named without a slight cringe knowing they should have voted for Team Dusseldorf.

5. ___(insert your own EUF here)___

Theme song: Dragoste Din Tei by Ozone

Misadventure:  Ok, kinda tricked you here, but I did provide some pretty epic Epic Universal Failure theme music.  It’s a total fill-in-the-blank situation.  I’m sure you have plenty to pull from, and at least it’s not our galaxy colliding with another while we sleep.  We all have some kind of extinction of our world as we know it, loss of all our power, passing through our own event horizon, and getting rejected more times in a row than we can count on two hands.

The Good News:  Experiencing Epic Universal Failures reveals that they are all part of the universal plan, whatever that may be.  So as all falls down, remember, it won’t be forever, and in the meantime, turn up the Moldovian disco music and dance like the galaxy is about the crash. Sometimes that’s how stars are born.

What’s your Epic Universal Failure fill-in-the-blank?

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