Sunday, August 5, 2018

8/6/18—Stopping The World

Stop the world: I want to get off.

That was the name of a musical that came out a few years after I was born. I remember hearing the phrase as a toddler and not knowing what it meant. But I found it a very interesting premise.

Maybe five years after that, I remember watching a merry-go-round spin and contemplating the idea again. I still didn't understand what it meant. But I wondered why anyone would want the world to stop just for them.

As I meandered through adulthood, I came to understand. Sometimes life moves too fast. Too much is happening. You can't catch your breath. Maybe you're dreading some form of adulting you have to do. Or maybe you've had too much of humanity for a while. 

Most of my world-stopping fits into that last category. I went through a protracted phase about a decade ago where I just really felt I didn't fit in with humanity. Recently, however, I've been struggling with all the other motivations. I've been through A LOT the last few years. And I just want to walk away from life. I want to drop all my worries and woes and never look back. But I can't afford to do that monetarily and, frankly, I think if I ever did just take off for a month or two, I would never come back. I might be lost to society forever. I'm just hermity and bohemian enough for that. Not that that would be a bad thing...

In the musical, the main character takes issue with everything in his life. His wife isn't good enough. His job isn't good enough. His children are girls, not boys. 

He has affairs. He attains wealth and status. Yet he continues searching for what's better. Then, one day, his wife dies and he realizes that he always had plenty of love in his life, but he never stopped searching for more long enough to appreciate it. With this, he is a changed man. He is no longer "selfish". He learns to put others first.

I have a lot to be grateful for. When this year began, I was close to death. I had fought a years-long battle with some "mysterious illness" and it was taking my life while my doctors watched and dragged their heels. All of that is over now. I should be elated. And I am. I feel like I have conscious gratitude for that on a daily basis. I have a second chance and I truly appreciate that. 

My complaint is that that struggle has moved on to another struggle—albeit a rosier one—without giving me time to take a breath in between. I only stopped working for two weeks after my heart surgery, ferchrissakes, and I spent all that time drugged and institutionalized. 

When you are given a second chance, all sorts of considerations arise, including "why was I saved...what was I kept alive to accomplish?" Then on top of that, you need to earn money to survive. You may have obligations to others. We are truly on a hamster wheel that never stops spinning. And while you hear stories of people dropping all worldly responsibilities and trekking across the US on a shoestring budget in search of meaning, I don't have the balls to do that. 

It's not just me, though. I see others all around me struggling with that same thing. When my brother died, my sister in law didn't have the luxury of having a proper nervous breakdown because she had four kids to raise. When people have children, they don't get a breather in between. In fact, for most of us, life changes of any sort catapult us immediately onto another game board that we have to learn to maneuver. 

Fact is, if I had a month—or a year—of grace from life, I would do nothing and accomplish nothing. I wouldn't properly take advantage of the opportunity. I'd spend all my time in my head (and I can do that without a roadtrip!) Then I would bemoan the "waste" of a month or year of my life, even if doing nothing was my entire objective. Besides, even if you do stop the world for a little, you'll have to return sooner or later...or end up half crazy in some remote cabin in the woods. 

It seems like the only way to win is to accept and find the gifts within the hamster wheel. The gifts for me lately have included being a little more social, a little less fearful and a slow return to the enjoyment of wandering around in nature. There is some excitement and growth unfolding for me now. Focusing on that, rather than the ways the world is either too overwhelming, too crazy or not enough for me, makes me long for escape a little less. And let's face it, even if you did stop the world, there would still be adulting to do—gotta feed the dogs, cook food, keep your space clean, etc. 

If I had enough money not to worry, I'd take that sabbatical. But I don't. So instead, I'm going to take life. I've already had the alternative. I'm happy to just be alive. I may not be alive on some meditative spa retreat or on a roadtrip to National Parks with my pups, but I'll take it.