The Pedestal

A good friend and I were talking recently about how easily we fall from serenity into the murky waters below. Although the mechanics of our descent are different, we both feel the same fundamental pain of having lost our golden spot.

So what to do? We agreed that once we slip off, a whole day can go by with us floundering in the backwaters. Often I try to cheat my way back to the pedestal — fill in quick fix here — swimming down channels that usually end up taking me farther from my goal. Don’t lifeguards say that when you get taken by a riptide not to try and swim your way out of it? But I’m not comfortable with my own drowning.

So I dream of a spiritual ammonia, something pure and simple, a quick dose under the nose and bam I’d be all right again.

There do exist some natural remedies I haven’t tried, or that I don’t use often enough. I liked yoga but am so naturally inflexible that it was like trying to bend steel. Thank God I decided that instead of trying to meditate I would instead sit in silence for a few minutes; a semantic distinction perhaps, but one that turned a failure into a regular practice. Sometimes I’ll simply rub my own heart in small circles and say, “Everything is OK, Tim” over and over.

I wish I used these simple strategies more frequently, but the truth is once I’ve fallen off the pedestal I usually thumb my nose at the sky and hope for a better day next sunrise.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to de-pedestalize the pedestal itself. If I perceive it as a precarious high spot then I struggle to return once I’ve fallen from its throne; if on the other hand I see it as a small rock that I’m always just a step away from standing on, then I need not panic when my feet lose their grip. Rather than spend twelve hours drowning, then, I may instead see a day as a constant two-step on and off the rock.

From the front yard of our house in the country I can see a radio tower in the distance. When I first spotted its blinking red light, I cursed it as evidence of the inevitable encroachment of civilization. But I’ve learned to see the tower’s flashing beacon not as an annoyance but as a reminder that the chances to get back on the pedestal tick by incessantly. Off. On. Off. On. Occasionally when I’m lost I walk outside and look at the red pulse and think of my own heartbeat and say out loud, “Just try again. Now.” Sometimes, it sticks.