Okay, so I have had the phrase “moving meditation” stuck in my head for the past couple of days, since you sent me that last section, Rebecca. Only it’s being sung like SJ Tucker sings the title of her track “Moving Meditation”. And, okay, sometimes—okay, often—my head is all “In the corner of my mind stands a jukebox, playing all my favorite memories” (that’s from “Jukebox In My Mind” by Alabama, only sometimes “least favorite” is more appropriate). It might not mean anything. But I have noticed on more than one occasion that the particular bits of the particular songs that get stuck in my head sometimes have particular relevance. The question then becomes, is this song important, or is this phrase important?
Says someone who’s slowly making their way back (they hope) to baseline from the mother of all autoimmune flares, and is also home sick from work on this meltingly warm midsummer’s day (it’s mid-May in the mid-Atlantic), and who consequently doesn’t want to move much at all!
I believe what I shall do right this moment is put on “Moving Meditation” and its two remixes on repeat and go dance. Where by ‘dance’ I mean ‘stand looking out my patio doors and sway side to side’.
…I made it about once through one track. (These three tracks are each just shy of six minutes long.) Outside has trees and bees and breeze, you see, and I’m easily distracted.
I want to talk about that from two angles. First, ADHD. (No, I haven’t taken an Adderall in the past six hours—but nor should I have, I think. I did take one this morning.) The internet, being what it is, has endless ways to keep my most easily distracted mind occupied—though a lot of the time I find myself just refreshing the same few sites in hopes of new content—and sitting here netsurfing and chatting just does not get things done. Not spiritual things and not mundane things—or not for the most part, anyway. All the other Hellenic polytheists I know are people I only know online, and talking things over with co-religionists is in itself a good thing to do. And most of the other writers I know, certainly all the ones I’m friendly with, are people I only know online, and there’s nowhere better than an IRC channel full of writers to go with a question such as “…what word am I thinking of? It means something like ‘momentary’ but sounds something like ‘effervescent’…” (It’s ‘evanescent’.)
But talking talking talking isn’t writing writing writing, or doing doing doing. I can endlessly tell my co-writers what’s going to happen in my novel, or I can stop talking for an hour and put actual words on the actual screen. I can endlessly contemplate to my co-religionists the prospect of going to say hi to the nymph of this here lake, or I can, you know, stop chatting, put on shoes, grab a bottle of drink-offering, and take an actual walk down to the actual lake.
Which comes to the second thing about my distractibility. Silence Maestas hit on it in their March essay “Devotional Practice Shouldn’t Make You Feel Like A Failure”:
I’ve occasionally caught myself (not recently but it still kinda happens) using my apparent failure at devotional regularity as a club to hit myself with, emotionally speaking. “Oh, I’m so bad; I can’t even remember to say my prayers every day/week/whatever. I let a day/week/whatever go by without lighting the incense. Oh I’ve failed to speak with the Powers, I really suck, why do They spend any time with me?” Although I have made much progress, I still frequently feel like I’m kind of a devotional failure, like my Beloveds would be better served by someone else, that what I’m giving isn’t as good as They deserve, that I should be all around a better, brighter, smarter, sexier person before I even bother with Them.
These thoughts are entirely natural BUT they are not a very healthy or helpful way to think about my role in the sacred relationships I’m part of. Do I imagine that the Gods haven’t ever been forgotten for a day? Do I imagine that They have never lived with someone busy from morning to night with the cussed DOING of life?
I can’t use devotional practice as a source of evidence proving that I’m a shitty person.
And my anxiety brain and my depression brain are bound and determined to convince me I’m a shitty person. Sometimes this works better than other times. If I were better at remembering evening devotions to the Ancestors and Heroes, and better at doing more complex and mindful devotions to the Gods, and better at organizing rituals, and better at regularly reading classical texts and scholarly texts to acquaint myself better with the particulars of my religion as it was practiced millennia ago, and…
(Notice how none of those are ‘or’. Always ‘and’, and there are many mundane ‘and’s omitted here for brevity. I must be perfect at everything, in more realms than anyone, or else I am an utter failure.)
But even for a fully abled, neurotypical person, that standard is unattainable. For someone like me…
I think, in fact, I will now go put on shoes and grab a bottle of wine for a drink-offering and walk down to the lake for a few minutes. Only a few, because it is in the nineties Fahrenheit this evening and I will melt, and also I’m not sure I could be standing up for very much longer today at all—but I’ll do it. And earlier this afternoon I did, in fact, light a candle and pray to Metis and Athena and pour them offerings of clear water. And tonight I will, in fact, pour out clear water to the Dead—the Beloved and Blessed, the Kindly and Restless, the Ancient and Forgotten, the Healing and Holy, and the Many Dead—or anyway to the Holy Dead, because I haven’t memorized this list quite yet. (Three guesses where the list came from…) And if I remember it when I get back from the lake, I’ll print out the Hex.Ink prayers to the Heroines of the Purple Thread and tape those to my bathroom mirror, for easier recollection.
Perhaps it’s not much. Certainly it’s no sacrificial hundred head of cattle!
But what I am capable of doing, however limited I may be by my multiple disabilities, is not unimportant. And it’s not nothing.
I have sent for a warrior
From on my knees
Make me a Hercules
I was meant to be a warrior
Make me a Hercules
(Sara Bareilles, “Hercules”)
This concludes this series—if, perhaps, only for now.