i once read about this russian fable about women who lose their children. when this happens the other women build a shed at the edge of the village, and the woman who buried her child goes to stay there for 6 weeks. the other women bring her anything she needs and leave it with a knock at the door and no interaction with the woman inside.
at the end of the 6 weeks the shed is set on fire.
and it is up to the woman inside whether she will come out or stay inside.
i've been thinking about this fable a lot lately. thankfully not because i've ever lost a child, but because life has a funny way of being sucky sometimes. this is an interesting time in this country, in my little piece of the country, in the country my friends and family inhabit. and by interesting i mean it's kinda scary and bleak for some. for a lot. i can choose to see the positive, but it doesn't mean the negative isn't there. it still exists.
sometimes when life isn't the way you imagined it to be, or want it to be, when it's hard and painful and frustrating it's so easy to imagine the shed burning. it's so definite. you need only to make the decision to stay in or get out. how easy is that?
but what about the times when *nothing* is happening? when the decisions seem endless and the outcomes all seemingly fruitless. time just drags and things seem stagnant. and you feel like you want to just set the shed on fire yourself? before the end of the 6 weeks? just to force the decision. the outcome.
this is all metaphorical, of course, but you can see it happening. you can see it happening in a bad argument with another person. there is that moment when you are so angry and frustrated and you aren't getting anywhere and you just want to see that fucker burn. the shed, not the person. or maybe the person but that's weird and you should see someone about that.
but, i digress.
or when you're just sitting in that godforsaken shed waiting for the end of the 6 weeks and the 6 weeks DO NOT END. they just go on and on and on and you think well if i just set it on fire that brings the 6 weeks to an end. right? it would so so easy to decide then what to do. case closed. problem solved.
and you can do that. you can force the outcome with anger and frustration and impatience. it happens. and sometimes it feels good to set that flame. sort of a scorched earth approach to problem solving.
but there's something to be said for waiting for the flame to be set. for waiting out the 6 weeks just see what it brings. there's a reason they leave the woman alone in the shed. there's a reason there's a set amount of time. there's a reason they don't give the woman the matches.
sometimes it's good to just sit. to be. to be patient. to let the path clear and to let the world come to you. sure, it's not as much fun. it's not the american 'can-do' way. but it has its merits. and it works. eventually. but how many of us give our issues that kind of time? give ourselves that kind of space.
pain and loss and frustration feel desolate and powerless and crushing. and there is nothing in this world that truly can take away the impact. not right at the time anyway. nothing. and then desperation sets in. and desperation is just like that scene in the movie when everything starts to go wrong and it only gets worse from there.
so i say there *are* two things that 'help.' but you can't 'do' them. you can't force them or make them different than they are. and i've said this before to a few of you and i will say it again because i have never spoken truer words.
time and distance.
simple as that.
there are times i think it would be so easy to just not come out of the shed. or easy to speed up the process. get the crap moving and over with. no time. no distance needed. done.
but then i think about it and i realize that i don't want to go down in flames. that i want to be part of the group that builds another shed. because there is always another shed to be built. the next shed in a string of sheds that need to be built. because that's just the way life is. you're moving along and then bam, it's time for another shed. and sometimes you're building the shed and sometimes you're the woman inside. and yes, sometimes you're setting the fire.
and the women in the village don't 'do' anything for the woman. there isn't some set thing that is executed to help the woman 'get over it.' what the women in the village do is offer time and distance. and it's up to the woman inside to accept or be able to accept the space. and who knows what goes on in that shed in those 6 weeks. but the space is there. and the woman emerges or she doesn't. she chooses to battle the flame rather than succumb to it. or she doesn't. but the shed has been offered. is there.
i don't judge either way. stay in the shed and let it burn, or come out and help build another one.
the trick is to know when you've been offered the shed in the first place. to know you are square in there and now is the time. the trick is to know when it's time to be patient and let the world come to you. to resist the match and let it just be.