I like to call it metaphoritis. Artists of all disciplines see metaphors in literally everything. It’s a great opportunity to see the world in this way, to connect up seemingly disparate thoughts or events, to divine meaning in a found penny from a meaningful year.
It’s also, I’ll admit, exhausting. Not just for us, but for people around us. My family are like, “No, Shannon, sometimes a flight delay is just a flight delay. You don’t have to parlay it into some existential message.”
Recently, I have been suffering from this inexplicable phenomenon, which causes my vision to go blurry at the most inconvenient times. It is accompanied by an intense feeling of pressure inside my eyes and sometimes even a total brain fog.
When I say inconvenient, I mean this wibbly-ness has happened whilst in the middle of recording a podcast, on a hike, driving, watching a film, watching a gathering sunset.
In the course of trying to sort it all out, I’ve had multiple doctors’ appointments with my neurologist and ophthalmologist and have spent hours on the web. I’ve thought it was ocular migraines, multiple sclerosis, depression, a brain tumor?!
Sidebar: I’ve come to the conclusion that no one should be allowed onto the WebMD or Mayo Clinic websites after a certain hour, especially on weekend nights. If so, you should have to prove that a) you’re not alone, and b) you should have to answer increasingly difficult math problems.
Finally, I went to a new doctor who, while listening to all of my complaints, was obviously starting to form a hypothesis before I was even finished. She took out a giant QTip and started poking around at my eyelids.
“Yep, just as I suspected. You have an extreme case of chronic dry eye. All of your ducts are blocked. What you’re experiencing is pretty much free-floating oil that should otherwise be washed away by your eye’s natural moisture. It’s built up and just wafting across your vision all the time.”
And, also, EEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWW!!!!!
I used to cry all the time. I mean, on the regular. I remember going to a therapist years ago and saying she had to help me because, if I cried in front of my boss one more time, I was pretty sure I would be fired.
But, now? Well, I haven’t cried in a very long time.
We talk a lot these days about the importance of self-care. Some people interpret that as going to get a pedicure or a massage. Others lean more heavily into naps, healthy eating, calling a friend, journaling, drinking lots of water, taking walks, and yes, therapy.
I thought I was doing it all. Checkity, check. I’m a good girl. I’m doing All. The. Things.
One of the girls in the storytelling program at Devereux wrote this on our feedback wall after class one day.
But frankly, after I set off this year to work on the Walks with Grief project, on top of some of my StoryMuse contracts which were deeply embedded with grief, not to mention some of the terrible, seemingly unrelenting things that are happening in the world these days, I found the ish starting to pile up on me.
My blocked tear ducts are just one manifestation of that.
This story is not really about me, though. Don’t worry, I’m fine, if a little embarrassed about it all. I’ve got my whole little regimen to follow now, and my vision is almost cleared up.
Still, I’m taking this all as a sign–a metaphor–as you will, about the importance of really paying attention to how the work processes through our bodies. How the world gets into us.
I hope, wherever you are, you’ve got your rituals, your people who care, your time and space to have a good cry, your All. The. Things., to help you move it all on through…
P.S. This song has healing, magical powers all on its own. We sang it together in a ritual at the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. I periodically return to it when I need to find solace and embrace its salubrious effects.