It’s been one of those weeks pressed with urgency, waking to a heart pulsing two beats ahead of itself, my body drawn tightly inward, constricted. Words don’t come easily in moments like these. Instead, a high-pitched pressure seeps from between my eyeballs to the back-side of my head, just above my neck-line, and thoughts come fragmented and grinding stuck. This panicky halted state terrifies me and I push back, stomping my feet with a scowl and demanding that this invasive heart-racing and brain-swelling thing “Be GONE!” But the devilish little creature settles only deeper, its arms folded tightly, legs tucked cross bones style. I can’t scare it off or sweat it out, push it aside or pretend it has gone.
Realizing this, I pause from my rage to take a closer look at this devilish little creature settled in my living room. Its large eyes peer at me from sunken eye-sockets and its delicate, shriveled body shakes beneath a thin, tattered robe. I see then that the culprit of this heart-racing and brain-swelling invasion is not the tiny and vulnerable creature sitting in front of me but rather, the absence and neglect this little creature has suffered. “Do not think it unnatural that when the flesh cries out, the soul cries too,” Epicurus reminds us. “The flesh cries out to be saved from hunger, thirst, and cold. It is hard for the soul to repress these cries, and dangerous for it to disregard nature’s summons.”
And so, I take a hot shower, put on my new green sweater with gigantic wooden buttons and head to the kitchen to make a pot of lentil soup. Over warm bowls of soup and buttered biscuits, the eyes of my new critter friend light up. And though my hearts still races and my brain still hurts, as we sit through the afternoon sipping our cups of tea, I smile and begin to feel okay. These simple things, I realize, are where we find the courage to risk living.