A few posts ago, I wrote about how I’m mostly ‘in the trenches’, in the muck & mire of real life, and how I believe we’re all made of mud. Lotuses, rooted in the deep dark mud of our every day lives.

Mud reminds me of wallowing. Elephants do it. Rhinos do it. They wallow, get their hides covered in thick cakes of mud to protect themselves from the elements – the burning sun, the stinging insect. For them, wallowing is self-care, but if I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing when I’m watching them, for these creatures, its also fun.

I believe in wallowing in the very human sense of the word. I believe in getting right down into the dirt of all that is, squishing it in my hands, peering into it, identifying its components. I believe in being with what is with as much awareness and presence as possible. I believe in knowing what I’m up against, knowing where I come from, knowing what is *really going on*. I believe in giving myself plenty of time and space to really feel what I feel before I dive into a crystal stream of spiritual or emotional cleansing.

But then, when I’ve gotten what I can get out of the mud, I believe in diving into a crystal stream of spiritual or emotional cleansing (my preferred method is a good journal purge + white sage. Lots of white sage.) I also believe in watching singing goat videos for a while (because nothing is as cleansing as laughter). I believe in asking my people what delights them so I can roll around in their joy until I find my own (because joy is the cure for every damned thing). I believe in singing that song I love at the top of my lungs, making lists of wishes, seeking ordinary beauty against the constant sight of the kind of ugliness we all encounter on the regular.

Wallowing, for me, is effective, and even necessary, but it is never, ever fun. It’s interesting sometimes, when I can detach enough from my own trigger responses to observe it with subjectivity. It’s educational, always. It’s how I learn from my mistakes. It’s what my boundaries are made of, what my protective armour is forged from. It’s how I allow myself to feel what I feel so I can heal it. But it ain’t fun. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

For me, finding the balance between the productive kind of wallowing and the non-productive kind is key. If I wallow past the point where I’ve gleaned what I can from examining things with fearlessness, from taking inventory of what the muck is made of, I can find myself spiraling under, stuck in the quick sand. Sometimes, wallowing gets a bit too comfortable. There’s nothing safer than a pity party, nothing as comforting and *easy* as fully donning my victim costume and staying stuck in woe, woe is me and all that goes with it – the paralysis that prevents me from finding a solution, the wicked vows I make in that state, like ‘never again’.

As soon as I find myself there, I know I’ve gone to far, and it’s time to suck it up, buttercup. Pull myself out of it by whatever means necessary, take all the necessary medicine – singing goats, white sage, a determined turning away from picking at the wound in favour of seeking out some kind of salve. That’s why, for me, becoming a master at wallowing has been important. Learning how to use it effectively rather than surrendering to it for all time. learning how to give myself ample time in the muck and also the means to get myself out of it again has been the journey of a lifetime.

You might be thinking “Well, why not avoid it altogether? Why not just refuse to wallow?”

Well, life is hard, and a lot of shit has happened, is happening, and will happen. There’s this incredibly hot sun out there, and it burns. The insects are bitey, and the mud is cooling. And if I don’t let myself wallow, I *soldier on*, and trust me on this: I’m no good to anyone if I just *soldier on*.


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