It was ten o'clock at night when I walked past the door and heard the noise. A gentle, disturbing noise. The door was closed, but I knew what was happening on the other side. It was in the bathroom, right next to the bedroom of the place I was housesitting for a few weeks. There had been a water leak, a plumber had come to fix it only to realize that the pipes had completely corroded. A bigger job was necessary, but it took a couple of days to organize it. The hole next to the toilet remained open. Luckily, the door stayed closed.
I‘m not scared of rats, but there‘s something creepy about them. Not the brown tree rats, which are actually quite cute, but the big black ones coming straight from the underworld. I don‘t know how many there were. I saw one trying to hide in the bathtub, with its tale sticking out. The whole floor was covered in excrements, and the combined smell of rat shit and open sewage made even the plumber turn around in disgust.
So there I was, rats next to my bedroom, hellish smells, no running water. The owners of the place, on vacation somewhere along the Mediterranean, offered to pay for a hotel room. Nobody understood why I refused, but I did. I just knew it was my call to live through this. Because it wasn‘t only the bathroom that was rotten, but something inside of me was too. As within, so without.
It started with a broken heart and quickly spiralled out of control. All the broken pieces of my life started to come together to form one big broken nightmare. Almost two years without a proper home, my income badly effected by pandemic and inflation, a vocation filled with doubt, old childhood trauma crying out loud. Lots of tears, covid, fleas. And over and over again: the broken heart.
Just as the bathroom at my friend‘s place was a mess, I felt a mess too. I still do. A full-blown midlife crisis! It can also be explained quite easily in astrological terms, with Pluto transiting my natal Mercury in conjunction and my natal Saturn in oppositon, plus my secondary Moon approaching my natal Pluto squaring my Sun in the 8th house, the house of transformation and death. Something having to die so that something else can be born.
It‘s helpful and in a way soothing to listen to the stars and see that my situation isn‘t only the result of bad luck and bad decisions, or worse: my imagination. It doesn‘t take any responsibility away from me, but it feels strangely safe knowing something bigger is at play. And yet – it sucks just the same.
Why am I telling you all of this? Why don‘t I talk to my therapist? I do, but the reason I‘m telling you too is because I‘ve been doing this for many years, talking openly about some of the life challenges I‘m facing. I wrote about my intense Vipassana retreat, my Ayahuasca ride, and my experience as an unvaccinated person in times of threatening mandates. I quit tobacco during the first lockdown and made a documentary film about it. I wrote about anger, sadness, hopelessness.
Do I like darkness? A little. But not in the current intensity. And yet at the moment, every day I‘m taking the conscious decision to stay in that dark hole. I feel the need to really look at all that is rotten. To smell it, see it, hear it. To dig deep into the underworld, to find out what‘s underneath the shiny surface. Somewhere in there, there‘s a treasure. I want to find it.
And yes, my heart was broken by a love story that ended far too soon, but it was also broken by a broken world. Whatever we‘re doing, it‘s not working anymore. Just like that water pipe didn‘t work anymore. The acceleration of our collapsing system has begun, it‘s getting smelly and the rats are ready to rise.
We could pretent that everything is wonderful, that there‘s no divide, that we‘re not selfish. We could convince us that buying shares of weapon companies is nothing sinister at all. We could ignore that peace is possible. We could tell ourselves there is no hole, there is no darkness. Take a pill and all will be well.
Sometimes I wish there‘d be a quick and easy solution. But there isn‘t. And so instead of resisting what is and rushing for a quick fix, I try to get inspired by The Little Buddha, who has just finished his sixth journey. I‘ve started practicing the art of not knowing, asking some important questions but accepting that there are no answers. Observing equanimously. Feeling brave enough to say, I don‘t know.
Darkness is everywhere. But no matter how scary and deep it is, I won‘t overcome it by closing my eyes or looking away. I need to keep them open and curious, only then I will find the light.
Long story short: I‘m taking a little break from writing, including this monthly blog. I‘m tired and the world is too.
The good news? Like everything else, this too shall pass.