The Demon Chasing My Tail

Photo credit: Simon Berger

Do you ever hit that fragmented space where your heart is racing and your mind is flying and your whole body is jumping from one mad task to another and you just can’t stop because you’re so consumed by all the million things you have to do? It’s like a demon is chasing your tail.

Except the demon is you.

And God there’s so much to do. Work stuff. Home stuff. Life stuff. Stuff, always stuff, lots of stuff. And right now I’m kinda super thrilled that I somehow, suddenly, magically have the energy again to do all the things that I think I need to be doing, but OMG that demon on my tail. Cracking the whip. You gotta, you gotta, you gotta do, do, do. Now, now, now, more, more, more, come on, come on, come on. It’s driving me a little nuts.

My therapist once said that we need to develop an awareness of those times when we feel ‘chased’. They’re not our natural rhythms; we weren’t born to feel chased all the time. We might have a fast natural rhythm, but it’s not a manic, frantic, flapping, heart-palpitating frenzy.

She said to stop, to breathe, to only deal with whatever was happening in front of me in that moment. And then she suggested I take my guidance from nature, to find my own natural pace, as nature does.

And that helps. It was a good starting point for me.

It also helps to ground myself in something that pulls my heart into this moment, this moment where somehow everything is a little slower, where the frenzy melts into a delicious goo.

And those precious somethings that pull at my heart are different every time. Sometimes it’s a song that feels like invisible violins swaying in the wind. Or the scent of lemon under my fingernails. Sometimes it’s a little nap on a sun-drenched bed. Or stolen kisses. Or falling into the sound of the ocean. Maybe it’s just watching the birds, or the clouds, or goofing around with my fur babies.

Different things ground me on different days, and I never know what it will be. All I need to know is enough to ask. What do I need right now?

But even more powerful than that, one day in the midst of a demon-on-my-tail frenzy, when I was half-wondering what I could do slow myself down to a slightly more human pace with this rush of energy I suddenly had back in my body, it came to me that it matters not so much what we do, but how we do it.

I loved that message, and almost instantly I imagined the whirlwind of all those things I was so urgently pushing myself to do suddenly freeze in mid-air, each one like a grain of sand, like particles in a storm, and then I watched as one by one they rearranged themselves into some kind of beautiful symmetry. And then those pieces fell into earth and into place. So exquisitely. And everything that didn’t fall into place, everything that disappeared, that didn’t play out, that didn’t happen, didn’t matter anymore. And that beautiful symmetry, that okayness with both what is and with what isn’t pulled my heart and grounded me so completely.

And so whenever I find my own demon chasing my own tail all over again, I try to remember that it’s not what we do that counts. It’s not what we accomplish or tick off our lists. It’s the experience.

You know when we lose ourselves in something like children at playtime? That.

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