If you are a mold avoider, this phrase explains itself. There can be fifty catch-22s happening in your struggle for survival on any given day. The very first one– once you suspect the problem is mold– is that you want nothing more than to curl up in a cozy, warm ball and put your aching head on someone’s lap…. but everywhere cozy and everyone’s lap will make you feel worse. Today my Catch-22 includes being exhausted and unable to sleep. But yours might be that you are starving and food hurts your body. Or maybe that to save yourself for your child, you need to leave your child. Maybe people are threatening to take your child away because they don’t understand the only two things you have found that are finally helping. Or maybe your only place “to live” is actually killing you. Or that going to where the air doesn’t hurt you puts you in tick habitat. Or that your nervous system needs to relax for you to heal, but you are sleeping in your car and constantly terrified of men. Or that you need your doctor’s help and they are gaslighting you. There is always more need than there is money. It feels like the finish line keeps moving when you get close to it. Or all of the above. It is legitimately impossible to explain. The human imagination fails long before comprehension.
I have said many times that in a mold-avoidance journey, you strive to be clean, warm and dry, but often you only get 2 out of 3. Clean is almost always more important than warm and dry. Somehow you learn to be thrilled with 2 out of 3. At least it’s not 1 out of three!!
It may be hard to hear this, but comfort and routine are not normal for most humans in history. It is possible to observe your mind in the middle of deciding that this is bullshit and that you deserve to have more than you have. This is not to say that this is not an impossibly absurd struggle. It is that. It is ridiculous on every level.
It’s just that it is possible that it is not supposed to be otherwise. It is possible to decide that this is an amazing opportunity to wake up to the fact that nothing on this level of reality will ever ultimately save you, redeem you, finish you, or work out for you. And that the comprehension of this fact, the realization of “Oh! This is how it works!” is actually the key to your liberation. And maybe that’s the point of it.
You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memory. Your looks will go. Loves ones will die. Your own body will eventually fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is absolutely impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away.Jeff Foster
Right now we stand on sacred and holy ground. For that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realising this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound obvious, but really knowing it is the key to everything, the why, the how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heart breaking gratitude.
Loss has already transfigured your life into an alter.
The deepest truth goes beyond the opposites. But before that clicks, the deepest truths can be felt in paradox. Mindfulness is an empty mind, not a full one. As Eckhart Tolle says, “You are special. Just not more special than anybody else.” and “Emptiness and fullness are the same thing– the same no-thing.” For all the complexity, it really is quite simple. It’s flow state. You have to stop thinking in order to feel truth. It shows up through a quiet, open heart as intuition and can guide your way. “It’s counter-intuitive,” except that’s another paradox. It’s just intuitive. Your mind is perhaps not accustomed to acting only as a servant to the knowing of the heart. Is a paradox so different from a doublebind? Maybe each one is a call to prayer.
Shifting from the mindset of “It should be different” to one of “This is a perfect teacher” changes your whole life’s unfolding. And it is not to compare your misery with another bunch of miserable people. All human misery is trying to teach us to wake up. It’s saying “Snap out of it! Look at the incredible joy that is available to you right now! You are missing it!” Your dearest and most beloved friend would say the same. These challenges are so incredibly hard, watch for the moment when your mind makes it worse and stop it there.
Marginalized, ostracized, victimized, oppressed and poor people the world over know this catch-22. It hurts so much more when you give the oppressor the power over your internal happiness by allowing their point of view to prevail in your head. The way to be free is to decide to be free, first… Maya Angelou will be a talisman in my pocket, on the new quarter, reminding me to always rise again.
I choose to welcome this illness into my heart as the greatest teacher I have ever had and that choice has changed everything. It hasn’t instantly made my life awesome, but it has given me the keys to my own happiness and it HAS guided me to solutions that are better than my mind could have come up with. That is clear. I refuse to resist life’s will. I let it humble me even further and dissolve the remnants of the conditioned structures of my personality still blocking the light of wisdom from shining fully. It is not “me” who will prevail, it is life itself that will prevail through this body when “i” can get out of the way.
The wisdom and intelligence of life, of Earth, is calling for a great humbling of humanity. Those who can learn this language and stay in alignment with life itself (which does not happen to be in alignment with modern comfort and routine) will perhaps become servants of a greater wisdom in the future. Who knows?
Mold illness is compelling thousands of people (soon to be many more) to drops their phones and go to the woods for extended retreats. We learn how to methodically avoid the tens of thousands of pollutants, to cultivate a good biome in and around us, to heal deeply. Our sensitivities make everyone around us healthier. We go back in time to pristine places and connect with our hearts. We listen with our ears cupped to the messages of indigenous populations who have never lost the knowing of sustainability.
And while recognition of the importance of indigenous knowledge grows, in particular in solving the climate and biodiversity crises and preventing the emergence of contagious diseases, we must ensure that indigenous knowledge is owned and shared by indigenous communities themselves.—António Guterres, Head of the United Nations
Who is to say this is not part of a greater plan of healing for the planet? Maybe Mold Illness is actually part of the solution, shaking us to listen to an older language than our own. Who knows? Perhaps the doublebinds can teach us to surrender to something deeper.
Holly, you continue to amaze me (& countless others) with the Wisdom flowing through you.
Thank you for expressing your experience and thoughts in such a beautiful and thought-provoking way.
Holding you in my heart and thoughts, always 🙏
Beautiful Holly. Thank you for your writing. I’ve shared it with a friend who is ill. Missing you on the dance floor. Love, Aimee