Has it ever happened to you? Feeling dreary and glum and no matter what you seem to do, you’re always left in a state of dissatisfaction at the result. Your milk has gone 1% sour, and you overcooked your eggs by 5%, despite your punishing exactitude. Your face isn’t quite right, and your body is all wrong. It’s almost as if you’re wearing a suit, which covers you, from the tippy top of your head to the soles of your feet. The zipper seems to have disappeared, and you can’t step out of this version of yourself. Drinking glasses slip through your hands and shatter on the counter, throwing a cascade of shards onto your leftovers. The work project that is supposed to be simple becomes a nightmare.
I had one of these weeks recently, when everything (from my perspective) went wrong and I didn’t feel right. My natural response was to draw the shades between me and the world, have a “good cry”, and become quiet and still. As prepared as I was to wallow in my own misery—which I know is ludicrous juxtaposed against all of the real problems in the world, but nonetheless—I realized my state was not entirely unique. In fact it occurs with some degree of regularity.
In other words, I was moulting.
According to the illustrious reservoir of knowledge of our time (perhaps not the galactic library, but at least a global one), mammals, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and birds all go through a moulting process. They shed sheaths of old dead skin in some cases. In others, cuticles (e.g. crab shells, and the like) are cast aside during periods of growth. With birds its feathers, and fur for cats and dogs. Goodbye scars and damaged tissue; goodbye phantom limbs and hello beautiful new claw.
Moulting is a powerful process triggered by adaptation from either external (e.g. seasonal) or internal (i.e. growth) stimuli, and is cyclical. It is a visible manifestation of regeneration and transformation. And it is exactly what I was going through.
This wasn’t an orderly intentional transformation, like putting together New Year’s goals or getting a make over. It was messy, and involved questioning. Questioning my reactions to specific situations, the real source of my angst; questioning my path, and how I treat myself and others. My eyes had to be covered with a thick slough of skin, and my sensitivities heightened so I could see what needed to change.
After a night of sulking, and a day of quiet contemplation, I decided a few things:
– This is temporary;
– All I can do is the very best I can do;
– Life requires balance;
– The most important things to me are my relationships and my art. Everything else requires perspective; and
– Even though it can be painful, ‘letting go of that which no longer serves you’ (I heard this at a yoga class and love the concept), and accepting change and guiding it toward a transformative outcome is cathartic and revitalizing.
While you can cry over spilt milk, you can’t see out of a dirty windshield.