We often think busy lives reflect purpose filled lives, which is not always the case, and so we try to fulfill our lives with activities just so that we don’t have to sit still and face our thoughts. The constant on-the-go cycle wears us out, but being tired sometimes is easier than facing the truth of ourselves. We’re aware of the running we do to avoid such thoughts, yet our denial spurs us to keep going, move faster, and to never stop. Deep down we already have the solution yet we are too scared to wade through the mess within ourselves to reach the answer. At times the mess is a small puddle; other times, it’s quicksand, sticky and so thick that we can’t shake it from the many places it’s latched onto.
As I drove home tonight from work, I felt the thoughts growing louder, shouting at me and daring me to deny their presence. I tried to drown them out with the sound of the wind rushing past my car and in my windows, but they were too fast. They caught up to me and I knew I couldn’t outrun them. So I decided to stop and let them come. Let them surround me.
There are times when I feel so many emotions yet can’t pause long enough to detect exactly what they are. It’s almost like that feeling of being on a carnival ride, spinning round and round at night, the colorful lights of the ride a steady blur as I spin in the air. I know they’re there but I can’t quite focus on just one. So I let my eyes close and sink into my seat.
As I sink back into the seat of the wicker couch on my back porch, I take a second to examine my emotions. Obviously I am bummed about our loss tonight at the game, but choose not to dwell too much since we have another shot tomorrow. My visit to the doctor today brought both good and bad news; I don’t need surgery but the recovery time from my fractured ankle will be about four to six months. That means I won’t be able to return to the sport I love until around March, which is both devastating and frustrating.
However, there is something else deeper there, past the daily fatigue and stress of work, beyond my health challenges, and just north of my struggle to balance all that which adulthood entails. This is the spot, so sticky and deep, wherein lie my insecurities, my fears, and my shame. The part of myself that I like to avoid.
I read once that authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Let me tell you, that’s tough. Real tough. At the end of the day, I want to come home to peace and quiet- not my inner critic reviewing all the ways I screwed up that day, how I have so much farther to go to accomplish my dreams, and reminding me of how hard I am to love. Nobody needs that. And what is so frustrating is that I am the person doing that to myself. Nobody else. Me. It’s hard when you realize that you need to give yourself grace, and when you need to take it easy and just forgive yourself.
Today after my doctor’s appointment I locked my keys in my car. I have never done that in the ten years that I’ve been driving, not once. I was so frustrated with myself for being stupid enough to do that, and my colleague said,”Coach, you’re human. It happens.”
Sometimes we can forget that, that life is the messy bits and isn’t always perfect, so why should we expect ourselves to be perfect. We mess up, we make mistakes, we stick our foot in our mouths, and we get our hearts broken. But we live! And if we do so authentically then we don’t have anything to apologize for.
Sure, there will be days when you’re on top of the Ferris wheel and can see clear skies for miles; then there will be the days when the spinning won’t ever stop and you’re getting sick to your stomach and you just want to get off the ride completely. When those emotions hit and your thoughts are so loud they’re practically screaming, don’t cover your ears and cower in the fetal position shouting out,”Lalalalala I can’t hear you!” Don’t be afraid to encounter the deeper parts of yourself, because that’s when you’ll really grow stronger.
Take a deep breath. Sit back in your seat. Close your eyes. And let the lights spin around you.
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” -Socrates