Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it wants. The way it stops and starts. -Edgar Allan Poe
I had an agenda this morning. I confess, I do most days; yet, since today is Sunday, the day when you are “supposed” to rest, I felt conflicted. Conflicted in that, I knew my agenda would bring about joy, peace, and restoration–not to mention downsizing. I need to downsize. I need less.
For all that you think you see from the outside, insides are changing. Mine, yours, everyone’s–whether we want it to or not. Life does not stop. Growth and transformation are always happening in the background, regardless of what our foregrounds look like; i.e. perfect little jobs and houses and relationships and privileges…or unemployed, homeless, alone, and stuck in cycles of marginalization.
We change. Our experiences change us. This cannot be helped.
I’m not sure it should be.
For all the inequities, unfairness, and injustices in this world I try to do my part in helping every day, affecting change singularly–as in, the upbringings, hurts and situations we have each encountered, is up to us individually.
There are so many people who make the choice to stay stuck in their past pain, as if somehow wearing a lifelong red badge is the only courageous move. I’m not buying it. In fact, I think it’s cowardly. It takes much more bravery to show up in your story and be who you were created to be, to stop living small, to stop adhering to some limiting construct under the auspices of “This will make you better!” than it does to remain a cold and miserable isolationist. You can either be right, or be in relationship.
Please hear me when I say that I understand some people are not able to choose. Their circumstances are too heavy, too egregious, too insurmountable to tackle on their own. That’s where you and I come in. We should strive to continually get it right rather than always be right. Big difference. Especially relationally, both in relationship with others and ourselves. If we are not listening, there’s no way we are understanding. And when we don’t understand, there is no way we can show empathy, act justly, love mercy, or walk humbly alongside others. Embracing differences and tearing down divides is unattainable without listening to understand.
In fact, my way or the highway mentality is nothing more than bullying. Bullying, like many selfish behaviors meant to reduce others to “lesser than,” is systemic and ignorant. The older I get, the more I can see clearly that bullies–whether in a middle school cafeteria or a public platform–are weak and insecure. Bullies do everything in their power to not be seen for who they really are, to not be found out, to not get one-upped by, god-forbid, a weaker, meeker, quieter person than they, that ironically, they go out of their way to be seen through force.
No thanks. I’ll take less of that, please. It’s why all news feeds are banned from our house most evenings, and why, when you try to “make” me do something just because “you said so,” you will receive a quizzical look if not a (mental) right hook.
A reformed bully, this is all very hard to say for someone who only looks forward, is filled with optimism and hope, and has been burned more by incessant altruism than she has been by baby oil and aluminum foil in her ’80’s teenage years.
But it’s true. Even the change in writing tense is an indicator.
My agenda today was to get back to the business of writing. My heart wants to say so much, its nonstop beating filled with stories of joy, pain, and triumph. Breakings and longings. Fears and uncertainties. Life. Dreams. Hope. Words.
I completed the downsizing of my home office today. It’s been a work in progress. Everything was ordered, filed away either according to memory or plan, or in some exterior bound cases, alpha by author name.
But there remained an effort, one that has been calling out to me like an intemperate unrequited love and the unfulfilled imaginary possibilities. Sitting alone in its own miserable, isolationist little corner was a wire basket, the contents of which date back to long before I care to recall.
Quotes and articles, book titles and Publishing “How To” manuals. Journals upon journals, thoughts upon thoughts. Word after word after word. Like a lifeless puzzle begging to be reconstructed, I ignored the lonesome basket adorned with paper-clipped messages of, “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect,” and “It’s hell writing and it’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written,” in a useless and debilitating effort to bully myself into avoidance.
Avoiding only works for so long. Whether it’s a person, a conversation, or deconstructing a lifelong errant construct or belief system, it’s neither a sustainable nor advisable plan for affecting change. As Brendon Burchard so accurately stated, avoidance is the best short-term strategy to escape conflict, and the best long-term strategy to ensure suffering.
While I don’t “suffer” when I don’t write, I feel an angst-ridden pang of irritability and restlessness. I sense an imbalance, as if I’m off-kilter and trying to re-balance, but until the scale includes my fingers actually typing words, no amount of measuring equals completeness.
It’s futile to try and avoid yourself. There’s always a reckoning. For me, it came last year after spending inordinate amounts of time doing what I like to call, circling the drain. Going ’round and ’round the exact thing you’re supposed to be doing, trying mightily not to succumb to the forceful undertow. I wrote all kinds of things for family, friends, work. I wrote resumes and poems, news articles and sentimental sticky notes. I’ve even written here, on this blog, since 2011. But it wasn’t until last year when I became a published author that I finally felt like I tackled avoidance head-on, once and for all.
Clearly, that’s not to say once you take on what you’ve been avoiding, you’re done. Not even close. But what it is to say is this: When you show up in your own story and live life according to your true calling, there’s nothing more you’ll need.
Do the thing you’re meant to do. Be who you were created to be. When you stop living according to labels, expectations, and assumptions, you’ll be amazed at how much lighter the journey becomes.