“what do we do with with that… fizz? The fizz in the bottle that’s been shaken that is going to explode? What do we do with it? … what I needed, was to let off steam. I needed abandon. I needed to stop being careful, I needed to stop being cautious. I needed to stop placing so many fences around what was okay.”
Continuing our theme of making space- how do we make space by releasing the pressure that builds up in ourselves? How do we release the tension when the need to do, and the need to not do, press or pull against each other in our selves?
“Blow the Carbon Out,” a song by LJ Booth:
Transcript and notes:
Recorded 15 January 2024
Hey everyone, thanks for tuning in.
So that urgency, that tension between go and stop. It creates this kind of adrenaline in our systems.
It creates this, this urgency feeling that's in tension with this desperate desperate need to be still and rest and daydream and do nothing. Nothing of any redeeming value. Except, of course, that rest has its own redeeming value. But we're setting that aside for the moment because our subconscious doesn't always realize that.
Our subconscious often thinks that we have to keep going and going and going and going. And that that anxiety and that sense of urgency and that sense of inspiration, are of vital importance. And they are.
Those of us who work with muses, for better or for worse, know that when the Muse shows up, you drop everything, or you lose it. When the Muse shows up, she's very demanding. And she's very insistent, and she very wants it right now. And so especially when that sense of Go is about going into that creative place, especially when it comes on the urging of that thing that feels like it's bigger than us, really the only thing we can do is do the thing. Except that we're so tired.
And unfortunately, the Greek pantheon doesn't really care if you're tired. There's a lot less compassion there than in some other sets of gods, and it's unlikely to be forgiving just because you happen to be human.
So what do you do with this adrenaline, with this almost panicky sense of desperate need to do two things that are diametrically opposed? Because so often, we as intensives, we hold paradox. We do both, we find a way. We work around the limitations of common understandings of what happens and how it happens. If someone says it's impossible, we kind of go, "Okay, let's do it!"
We very rarely take no for the first answer. Unless, of course, it has to do with the consent of somebody else.
So what are we doing here? How does this work, here? What is this, here? How do we burn that off. Because when you try to hold that much adrenaline, cortisol, excitement, intensity inside you and not express it, that leads to all kinds of trouble. It doesn't, it doesn't make you better. It just makes you more tense and cranky. And often, it makes me more rigid, it makes a lot of us more rigid. So that's not really where we want to go.
So what do we do with with that... fizz? The fizz in the bottle that's been shaken that is going to explode? What do we do with it?
Well- and this is something I learned from one of my ex partners- one of the things you can do is physical exercise.
Now, for some of us, that's a really easy no brainer, like, yeah, I always go to the gym when I'm stressed. And that's great. But for the rest of us, for those of us for whom the gym has not been a friend, for whom gym class was a terror, for whom, even if we liked to be in our bodies, in some ways or other, we learned that that was a problem. Or for those of us for whom physical activity is difficult- medically difficult, physiologically difficult, not easily accessible- it's not an obvious first choice.
So the first thing you have to know about this is that whatever you're doing, you need to do it to the point of intensity for you. And for some of us, that is literally turning over in bed. And for others of us that's running a mile, or running 10 miles, or stretching and running a marathon or running an ultra marathon or a Tough Mudder. Like the range of possibilities is complete.
Sometimes, when I'm depressed, the most intense thing I can do is breathe deeply for a minute. And then I'm exhausted. My diaphragm is exhausted, all of my body is exhausted.
But that's kind of the point of this. That we have this urgency to do. And we're trying to find like one thing to do in a way to focus it and all that stuff that I talked about last week, but also: we're working our way through this opportunity to see what happens when we blow the carbon out.
So there's there's a song, a very obscure song by an obscure songwriter. The songwriter is LJ Booth, the song is "Blow the Carbon Out." And it talks about- It's a metaphor, because of course, it's a metaphor because this is the folk singers I listened to. But it talks about needing to go super intensely, needing to like just drive the engine of a car out to its limit, just to give it a little bit of a rev. And then everything will be cleared out, and it'll be better.
And it revolves around a road trip. And this couple that's arguing, as they're taking a road trip. Which those of you who have taken road trips with people that you are arguing with will know that that's one of the most frightening times to have an argument.
Especially if you come out of a background where having an argument is dangerous. Because you're trapped. The two of you are relying on each other and a single conveyance. And changing any of those plans is going to be complicated.
And figuring out what they needed in order to not be arguing for the rest of the road trip involves a breakdown, and a mechanic, and a barn dance.
But the idea is just go. Go hard, go intensely into something physical. Let go the intellectualizing for just a minute. Stop. Stop worrying about nuance and detail and just, just dance. Let the fiddle take you.
And so this is the concept, right the blow the carbon out concept. But what that means for you varies by who you are. Sometimes, sometimes it means putting on a piece of music and dancing vigorously in the living room. And sometimes that means squeezing your hands really tightly or squeezing your legs really tightly. And sometimes it means scribbling as hard as you can with a crayon on a piece of paper like you're two, and you're mad.
It can mean all kinds of things. But the idea is to do something almost excess. To the limit, to the edge. To the point of stress, but not strain. There's no use damaging yourself or your stuff, or your materials, whatever. But there is use in engaging something with such deep focus and such abandon. It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong. It doesn't matter if you're getting it perfectly. Or if you've never done this before.
You can stack wood. I mentioned that I learned this from an ex of mine. We were both having that kind of day, that pent up, stop go kind of day That day when we didn't know what to do with ourselves. But none of it was working. And we were living in a fairly rural place.
We had wood heat, which means we had about four cords of wood to stack. And we hadn't stacked it yet. So it was just lying in a pile where it had been dumped by the delivery person. And finally she said to me "Listen, like I don't know what's wrong with you, but like go outside and stack wood."
She grew up as an athlete. For her doing a physical thing was a natural response. I didn't understand how that was going to work for me. Because I didn't feel like doing a physical thing. I felt like my muscles were in some kind of turgid state. They were too full to bend. But I was at the end of my rope and so was she.
And so I stomped outside in my gloves and sweater and jeans and boots and it was winter and I stacked wood. I stacked a cord and a half of wood. That's a lot of wood. I only know it's a cord and a half because I know that a cord is four feet by four feet by eight feet of wood. But I stacked and I stacked and I stacked and I stacked and I stacked until I was absolutely exhausted.
And wouldn't you know it, it helped.
It helped me free my brain from the loop it was in, from the spinning it was doing. From the wanting to do everything and unable to do anything state that I had been in for like a day and a half at that point. And for me at that time, that was the thing that my body could do.
Now, I would probably injure myself stalking a cord and a half of wood. Maybe not, but I would have to be careful. Then, I didn't have to be careful, then I could just yank and pull and push with abandon. And that's what I needed. I needed abandon.
I needed to stop being careful I needed to stop being cautious. I needed to stop placing so many fences around what was okay. Sometimes it's the crayon. Sometimes it's the woodpile.
Sometimes it's sprinting, even if you're usually like a disciplined distance runner, sometimes it feels good to just go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go until your body can't do it anymore. Until you collapse, and you're exhausted. And it wasn't in any of your target ranges, and you don't care.
Sometimes it's finger paint. Sometimes it's anything. Anything that feels like you shouldn't do it, but it won't hurt anybody.
And a word about distruction. I used to try to do this with like- once I took a bunch of old jars that I'd saved because I'm one of those people that saves all the jars in the house. And I put them in paper bags, because I was being careful. And I took them out on the back porch because I was being careful. And I took a hammer and I smashed them and I smashed them and I smashed them and it. It wasn't satisfying. I thought the breaking dishes or breaking glass would feel good. But it didn't give me the... it didn't give me the end that I needed.
Looking at a pile of broken glass felt like looking at energy dispersed and what I needed was energy intensified. So for me, taking a crayon, and scribbling all over a piece of paper is more effective.
For me taking fingerpaint and smearing it all over a page is more effective. For me sprinting down the block, as far as I can, with my current state of health, is more effective. But it has to be something where I don't have to care, where I don't have to be careful, where I don't have to be cautious.
Where I can just do a thing that is just for the sake of doing the thing.
There is no end point, there's no art that comes out the end of it. There's no craft. It's just unbridled feeling, and not even one feeling. All the feelings all at once.
And I know you might feel like you don't have time for it. Because when you do this, you have to know that there's going to be the expression: the wood stacking, or the coloring or whatever.
And then there's going to be the aftermath. You're going to need some aftercare. You're going to need a space to have whatever feelings you're having, after you've opened the floodgates.
You're gonna need space and time, and possibly a pile of tissues. And so you might think that you don't have time for it. So my recommendation is to schedule it for late in the day, so that everything you have to do is already done. To ask for support from people around you, who can maybe help you get other things done or help take care of things that you would otherwise have to take care of when you're in that aftermath state.
And I would suggest that you choose something that you don't think you're good at. For me, that's athletics and visual art. But for other people, it's other things. I can dance vigorously, and as though I don't care, as long as nobody's watching, because I don't have any training in dance.
What I can't do in this state is something like woodworking. I'm supposed to be good at woodworking. I am good at woodworking. I can't, I can't get into the right state of freedom. I studied music for years, I can't get into the right state of freedom with a musical instrument.
This is an opportunity to really care for yourself by letting some of the steam off just as steam. This is part of the space-making process. This is part of the popping out of those little tiles that I talked about last week. Is just expressing the energy buildup. And by express I mean releasing the energy buildup, so that you can then do something different. Have a sense of what's going on around you, be less overwhelmed.
Sometimes you have to go into the overwhelm in order to get out of it.
Thanks for tuning in. Talk with you soon.