Mental Health, Relationships ,

When I was a kid, I had a recurring nightmare about speed. A bunny going very fast bounding towards me. I only knew it was going fast because of the lights moving around it like it was flying through space. But in its bounds, it wasn’t actually moving at all. It was an illusion. I knew it was an illusion, but the *feeling* of speed would always make me fearful and nauseous. I’d wake up in vomit.

I’d always recalled that dream believing firmly that it identified a fear of speed, of moving too fast. But on second thought, I think the illusion was the problem itself. I’m not afraid of moving too fast, I’m afraid of the world moving around me and me not keeping up. It’s about the fear of slowing down and the illusion that I’m going somewhere. It’s the belief I’ve held that by continuing to move, my fears can’t catch up with me…and yet, they do. They always do. The belief that by running, I’m going somewhere. And that by staying still, I’m letting life run by me and I’m not participating in it. That if I’m not going, going, going, I will regret not having lived thoroughly “enough.”

All of these beliefs set in when I was 8 years old after my heart surgery. Looking back, it’s almost like the day I met Gregory at the hospital, when we promised to each other that we would live our lives fully despite our heart conditions, is when a timer in me was “set.” I was now committed to him and to myself that my life would mean something more than it had and I only had till death to do it. Because I was being given a chance at a new life, a life I wouldn’t have been able to live even 5 to 10 years previously. I had to make it worthwhile.

And so, I’ve endeavored to live my life so packed with living that I’ve forgotten how to step back, stop, and smell the roses. It’s almost like the act of living is just another check box of to do’s. Not a bucket list of excitement, but a need with urgency, a necessity grounded in wanting my dying moment to be a shotgun list of things I accomplished and nothing I wanted to do left untouched. I’m finding this to be a tiring burden, a weight. I am privileged enough to be able to have all that I want – not in money necessarily, but in resources to make what I want happen in my life. I can travel when I want, I have love around me wherever I go only limited by my own skull, more time, and I have abilities people seem to want to give me money for. I am more free than I’ve ever been in this life.

And that freedom, though exciting, amazing, jealousy-inducing for others…has shed an interesting light on what propels me forward still. Why is it that though I only work about 20-25 hours a week, I have not made time for sitting and writing? For meditating? For reading books that have been sitting on my shelf for years? For sitting on the porch and just letting the sun shine on me? Instead, I fill the space with others, with dancing, climbing, yoga, hiking, learning guitar and snowboarding, pushing and pushing to improve in every aspect of my life in every possible way. Almost like I’m the hare in Alice in Wonderland looking at my watch saying to myself and everyone around me: “You only have 60-70 more years or less….time is of the essence! We’re not getting any younger here!” Yes, I only have one body and one life and an unknown amount of time to live it, but am I really living it if I can’t be there in my body in my life right there experiencing it fully? If I’m so busy rushing to the next place, how can I fully appreciate the place I am now – as imperfect as it is?

This last week,  planned date night became unplanned due to lack of motivation. My partner and I spent 6 hours talking, connecting – with no other goal (though we kept saying we “should” exercise…). We agreed it was magical – and rare. But I theorize maybe only because our time is always so focused on “doing” – together or apart. I realize my part in this entirely. My unending need for novelty, accomplishing, doing, pushing, improving – it creates propulsion, forward momentum, inspiration for myself and others. So many people comment on this about me. But what it doesn’t create is a space to just be whatever and wherever you are right now – and let that be perfection.

Today, I went snowboarding. It’s my first season and it’s been a struggle, a huge frustration. I suck at it – royally. And today, I wiped out in powder a few minutes into my first run and I wiped out and I wiped out and I wiped out. I kept getting up, doing it again, crying. My board kept getting stuck in the snow. I’d get up, try to pick up speed, lose my balance, fall. I kept thinking about how people tell me powder days are why people snowboard and if this is the mecca, I’m done. I quit. And yet, this propulsion keeps me coming back, trying again. I only did one run today. I walked down a quarter of it. Dejectedly. I thought about the one and only day I enjoyed myself on the board. I remember distinctly coming into that day with only one goal in mind: have fun. And I did. I was relaxed, hardly fell, and when I did, I’d laugh it off and try again. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the one time I expected little from myself is the one time it didn’t feel like a burden or a pressure to be better. And magically…the desired outcome came easier too.

This tiredness in my body and my heart to live up to my own expectations of what “living fully” looks like is a clear indicator that my definition of those words may be entirely wrong. Perhaps all this travel and all these jobs and sports and hobbies and friends and lovers and work at relationships and improving myself and others is all just my attempt at finding something to *do* with my limited time – and nothing needs to be *done* at all. Of course, the doing of things is not inherently negative. But maybe the doing, above and beyond intentional, must be 100% “fuck yes” *and* also given the appropriate time, space, processing, and moments of just “being” in between to appreciate and fully experience them too.

Perhaps, when I am feeling tired, I permit myself an hour to take a nap in the middle of the day. Perhaps, I don’t just schedule back to back events and get worn out to the point that I am just doing for the sake of doing. Perhaps, when I am worn and frustrated with learning something new, I give myself compassion and let myself take a break from it for days or months or years until I have renewed vigor for trying it again. Perhaps, in filling my schedule, I *schedule* time for just being – whatever that looks like.

Though we are limited in time in our lives, perhaps, as long as we treat every moment with reverence, passion, vigor, strength, and love, we can view whatever remains as irrelevant. Not something to fear, but something to share for as long as we have it available to us in the ways we most wish to share it.

Today, I stop the timer.

One thought on “Propulsion

  1. There is no shame in simply being.
    It helps you appreciate where you’ve been and what you’ve done.

    Stop sometimes. Smell the flowers. Breathe in the air. Stare at the stars. Lay on the floor. Take a nap. Let yourself be.

    Just like the view out your car window, the world looks like it’s moving fastest when you turn to the side and watch it zip by. It doesn’t seem as speedy if you look ahead, behind, or up… Or even if you just close your eyes for as little while.

    Life isn’t a race to the finish line. We don’t need to check if every item on our “bucket list.” Enjoy the moments. Enjoy the people. Enjoy yourself. Love. Be loved.

    Life is much more about quality than quantity.

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