The Academic Doldrums
If you're tuned in to the academic year - a teacher maybe, lecturer or Head - loneliness can hit hard as the summer break opens up before you...a void to fall into. It can seem as though the world and his wife are out there having fun, connected and enjoying life to the full. The streets seem empty. The exodus has happened. The sense of isolation can be acute.
And you don't have to be without relationship to feel this.
Our daily and yearly habits and routines keep us safe. Being ‘useful’ helps us belong. Even if we’re unconscious to this process we can fill our time with 'things' and 'doing', so that when they drop away we’re left bereft, lost and panic may ensue.
Parents sometimes feel overwhelmed as the summer break stretches ahead and anxious to find ‘occupation’ for their offspring to fill the space. For young people whose home life is difficult, or perhaps have to bear unimaginable neglect, school can be an escape, a place of safety, even if they spend much of the time acting from their inner chaos. What happens to them in the summer?
July is full of goodbyes and endings. People are leaving jobs, courses, places, relationships. Loss, abandonment, isolation despair, hangs in the air. We breathe it in at every turn as we encounter the inevitable separation from people and jobs that we love, need and matter to us.
It's hard to be still when we hurt, to bear pain and discomfort. Often we try to push it away or rush to fill the space with more doing. 'Keep busy' is the old adage - how more wrong could this be! The only way through this... is to let it be. To bypass the avoidance strategy you may often use when the going gets tough. Sitting with, and allowing the difficult feelings to be there; the knotted stomach; the internal ache; the deepest sense of abandonment and isolation; whatever it is, if you can, stay with it. I promise you, it will not last. Like ancient bubbles locked away in arctic ice, the suffering, when released, will rise to the surface and melt into air.
It’s in the stillness and silence we find ourselves
‘There is a silence, the child of love, which expresses everything, and proclaims more loudly than the tongue is able to do’.
Alfieri, Count Vittorio
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