Where The Gremlins Live
There is a space where gremlins live. I’m not exactly sure where this space is, I think it’s different for everyone, but lately I’m fairly certain my gremlins have been residing somewhere in between intention and action. And my gremlins have absconded with my words, with no sympathy they’ve been raiding the inner recesses of my mind and pillaging my thoughts that wish to be put into sensical words. And while these gremlins have been stealing my words they’ve also been using all their little tricks to distract me from my desire to be mindfully present. Have you ever had that feeling that someone or something is jumping up and down in your head, waving their arms like crazy, throwing karate-chop kicks, making crazy faces, and giving you the middle finger all at the same time? No? You’ve never had that feeling? Well then have you seen the movie GoodFellas with Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta? Picture the scene toward the end where Henry, Ray Liotta’s character, is making the pasta dinner at home and there is like a million things going on and everyone wants a piece of him; his wife is nagging and yelling and he’s got to get to his mistresses place and walk a tight rope to extract himself as quickly from her as possible but still mix and cut the cocaine, get the cocaine to his runner, the girl with the hat who will not travel without her lucky hat but forgets her hat, and Henry still has to drive his handicapped brother home from the hospital, and helicopters are flying overhead, and Henry almost has a car accident, and he has to drop the gun off at Karen’s moms house, and the music is just going on and on and you feel like something has. just. got. to. give…. and soon. Well, that’s what the gremlins have felt like. Ever have that feeling?
What is mindfulness? And why does it elude me? Mindfulness is being present and being aware of our thoughts, actions, feelings, and surroundings.
I went home, to Chicago, last month for the first time after spending a year in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t have reverse culture shock, as many thought I would, what I had was displacement shock. I spent three weeks feeling as if I was displaced. Fallen through a small crack where the earth had slightly shifted. Caught between globe-trotting-adventures and permanence. Caught between living out of a suitcase and ownership. Caught between seeing my parents age and not wanting to see it. Caught between my nieces and nephews growing up without me around and wedding plans being made and apartments being bought and sold and the guilt of feeling I didn’t want any part of being anchored to any of it. But at the same time longing to be anchored to something… to someone.
I’m back in Saudi Arabia, I’ve been back for about three weeks now, and while I continue to long for the comfort of being anchored at the same time I’m mentally packing my bags as I turn my sights into the horizon… as the gremlins keep jumping up and down making those damn silly distracting faces all the while the helicopter is hovering above…. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.
And then there is the avoidance. Yes, my gremlins have been busy not only with thievery of words and mindfulness, but also they’ve been handing out avoidance as if it’s a 2-for-1 special. Why do we avoid things? Like the nagging little sensitive tooth. Why do we avoid the first feeling of sensitivity? Do we just hope it will go away? And even when it’s getting worse and we’re still hoping it’ll go away, hoping all the way until we find ourselves having a root canal. Why do we avoid what is right in front of our faces? Perhaps because what we are avoiding is faceless. Literally and figuratively.
But facelessness can only last for so long. Just like the tooth cavity – It must be dealt with sooner or later. And we learn. We learn that “If we do not discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us.” We learn that the gremlins, while pesky buggers, are in fact there for a reason – Sometimes I feel that my gremlins come by throwing distractions and making faces because they know it’s in my best interest to avoid some things until I am ready to deal with them. And that the sound of the helicopter blades going whoosh whoosh whoosh will actually quiet down with mindfulness. With awareness. Awareness that life is a path we each transverse on our own in our own way. That being anchored can mean being anchored to our own truth – Because when one can stand firmly in their own truth nothing can un-wedge that anchor. And when the veil is lifted you realize what you have been avoiding has been just as frightened of you as you of them. And the gremlins stop their shenanigans as they return your words. And the helicopter flies off into the distance until the whoosh disappears. And the road opens and the sun shines once again.
And mindful presence returns as I become mindfully aware of just how lucky I am to be living the life I am living.