Long gestation period for this post
Note: I have been writing this post for weeks now, so “today” and “yesterday” and “last week” are all relative. I don’t know where exactly they are anymore. And it looks like I have already covered a little bit of this ground in some prior, equally cranky posts. Lucky you!
I have a book called How to Be Happy, Dammit! A Cynic’s Guide to Spiritual Happiness. It’s by Karen Salmansohn, who has styled herself to be kind of a pop-y, hip, self-help-y guru. I like her stuff, though; as the title of the book suggests, it provides a way for people who think WAY too much (sound like anyblogger you know?) to make room in their lives for the possibility of forces bigger than they are—for magic, or God, or a universal force, or whatever you want to call it. I found it years ago, in an Urban Outfitters, of all places, or it found me. It was a time when I must have been ready to stop being so thinky and start being a little more woo-woo. I sometimes open it at random when I need inspiration (or when I’m bored). Today I opened it to the page that says, “If you keep doing the things you’ve always been doing, you will keep getting the things you’ve always been getting.”
Let me just say right now that I’m not prepared to sell my condo, quit my job, and go walkabout. First, I don’t have a condo. Second, the job is temporary, anyway, and I could use some money—and, since it’s temporary, I want to see it through to the end. And third, I do have wanderlust, but sometimes when I have wanderlust it means I just want to escape, which means I need to stick around and take care of business. And finally, it’s been done already. By me, coincidentally.
I’m not equipped to make the grand gesture, then, to show in some significant way that I want something(s) different. But I do. (And btw, it’s not just about the relationship thing—there are many other things too.) My life lately is kind of like when I am just realizing I need a haircut again. Let’s say I need a haircut and decide to do something drastically different. For the first little while, I notice it every day and am glad that I took the risk. It looks different and brings excitement, and everyone has nice things to say about it. But slowly, the haircut becomes normal. That’s fine, because that’s the phase when I can simply enjoy the haircut and just be secure in the fact that it suits me and has become a nice enhancement to my life. But then it moves into not fitting me anymore. It becomes overgrown, unruly, split-endy. I don’t notice at first, though (I’m kind of slow). I may become vaguely aware of a sense of dissatisfaction, but I may not know why.
Eventually I do figure it out, but then it seems like a big hassle to do something about it: schedule the appointment, decide what to get, and commit to maintaining it. This is the hair malaise phase, where it’s always back in a ponytail and I can’t remember what I liked about the cut in the first place and want it to be different. And yet, it takes me a while to get around to doing something about it.
And that’s just hair.
Now expand that to a life. I’ve been experiencing a crisis of faith lately. It has been pretty intense and pretty deep; that’s one of the reasons I’ve been starting and stopping on this particular blog post and also one of the reasons I haven’t been writing more in general. My life isn’t fitting me anymore, and I want multiple things to change, but I have been feeling for several months like I’m hitting a brick wall on all fronts. I’m thinking that since I am trying to change multiple things it must be like trying to course correct an ocean liner; there is a lag between the time the corrections are made and the time the effects of the corrections are felt. Normally the waiting is challenging but manageable, because especially since I went vision questing, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live with the sense that things will work out even when I don’t know how. But lately I haven’t felt that. I haven’t been feeling the same sense of support from the universe that Karen Salmansohn had helped me overcome my cynicism enough to feel; I haven’t been feeling like the universe will meet me halfway if I take care of my end of things. There are specific reasons for this that I am keeping to myself.
I am slowly snapping out of it, but in some ways, I don’t WANT to, because if things don’t change, I feel like snapping out of it would be like signaling to the universe that I am okay with the status quo. But on the other hand, I can’t help but snap out of it at least a little bit because I have so many blessings. At this point in my life, I really am unable to be ungrateful for too long. (You have no idea how infuriating that is.)
So where does that leave me? Well, being an asshole to my friends and family, for one. They have tried to be supportive of me, and I have been very difficult to support lately. And I haven’t wanted to write about it either, because even though people seem to appreciate it when I share the difficulties I am having, I am acting like an insufferable wet blanket lately, and I’m not prepared to be warts-and-all about it. For another, I’m in a weird place of sort-of having faith and sort of not. I don’t know how to live my life anymore other than the way I’ve been doing it for the past 2 and a half years, but I don’t completely trust right now that it is the best way.
But like Karen says, if you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same things. So I don’t really know what else to do other than what I have decided to do:
1. I’m not going to go to Switzerland to compete in the World Grappling Games. You might recall that I lost in the qualifier in Sacramento last month but still qualified to be on the team. But I am not going to. If I want things in my life to change, preparing for competition is one of the obvious time- and energy-consuming things I can jettison. It took me weeks to get to the point where I was ready to make this decision. But I have told my team, and I’m not going back on it. I know I have a love-hate relationship with competing, so you’d think it would be easy to say no thanks, but it wasn’t.
2. I am CrossFitting 4 times a week instead of 5 and training BJJ once a day instead of the 2- and 3-a-days I used to do. I’m making sure to get at least one if not 2 full rest days per week, where I do NOTHING. I’ve been doing this for a couple weeks now, and it turns out that my performance is not worse; if anything, it’s better, in both arenas. And my fitness level is staying the same. (Amazing what Becca and Andy know! They always preach the importance of rest. And Dara Torres, the Olympic swimmer who trains much less at 40 than she did at 20 and is performing better now, was in the news all summer. So I just need to pay attention.)
3. I am working on my book project by reaching out to people who might be able to help me. I generally don’t like to do that because I don’t want people I like to think I’m using them. Or, that’s part of it. If I’m being completely honest, the other part of it is that I don’t like to ask for help. So I’m asking for help, talking to friends and friends of friends who might have suggestions about how I can refine my proposal and sample chapter, get my ideas in front of people who could help me move forward, etc. I’m also specifically looking at how to join a writers’ group.
4. I’m accepting more invitations to get out and about so I can branch out and meet new people. Or, at least, I’m trying to. That one sometimes proves to be more difficult than any of the others, actually. I guess I’m still a work in progress.
So there you have it. I don’t want to keep getting the same things I’ve always been getting, so I’m intending to do things differently. Cross your fingers that the course corrections manifest themselves sooner rather than later. I really don’t like being an asshole, even though I seem to be very good at it.