Out of the way

October 19, 2016

Have you ever arrived at your destination and then wondered how the fuck you got there? You can’t quite remember taking that left turn on Elm Street and you can’t recall if you stopped at the light a mile back. But somehow, you ended up in the parking lot, safe and sound.

How did I get here? I’m not really sure.

For a while now, I’ve been going through the motions: wake up, go to work, hit the gym, think about writing something, watch three hours of Netflix instead, practice my skin care regimen, maybe read a few pages of something, go to bed because I am bored. Like a good little rule follower, I finish all the things that people expect of me – I practice self care in text book style – my days include an 8-ish-hour-per-day work schedule and the proper serving of vegetables. Biceps and broccoli, I’ve got that shit on lock. I even started going to counseling, basically so some dude can tell me to look in the mirror and tell myself that I am loved. You can see my eyes rolling, right?

But something is off and I don’t know how to fix it. Remember, I love the fixing, but intellectually I know that there are some many things I can’t control. I think I’m stuck. My equilibrium is off and I need desperately to get out of my own way. I’ve been blocking my shots before I even had the chance to take them. I want to write a book, but I want it to be perfect, so I don’t bother with the words. I want to go to Europe, but I want to see ALL THE THINGS, so I don’t plan it out. I want to be spontaneous, but the thought of endless possibilities is paralyzing.

Do you ever feel like this? Like your whole life is a mess even though things are pretty darn good?

I did the only thing I could think of – what any good Type-A person does – and I made a list. (That is, after I cried and had a toddler-like tantrum in my kitchen, screaming at my partner about how we’ll never do anything meaningful with our lives because we’re too afraid. You know, a typical Sunday afternoon.)

So then we made a list. Of all the things that we want to do before we die. It includes scary tiny human things and not-so-scary book a plane ticket things. Some of our dreams were the same, and others were very different. Some were right now things and others were some day things. But there they all were, on paper. Words we didn’t bother with before.

And for my list-makers out there, you know what comes next. We work tirelessly to cross that shit off.

It’s such a small thing, but that list caused something to shift in me. In the past three days, I deactivated my Facebook profile, outlined a travel plan to visit our Austrian relatives, registered for two writing courses, and wrote 3500 words for myself. It feels pretty good.

How did I get here? I made a list. I stopped trying to meet my own impossible expectations, even for just a minute. Maybe if I just keep moving, I’ll stay out of my own way.

1 Comment
October 21, 2016 @ 5:31 pm

Yes. I see you have a strong inner critic, too! Totally feel you on the “stuck” thing. What impact am I making? Do I matter? Maybe you have read this from Rilke before, but it hit home for me the other day: Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Bravo on all the list-crossing, especially the 3500 words for you! Thanks for sharing, Mal.


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