More Like Antiseptic Than Decay

I am not really sure what to write about today, but I want to give something.  So I’ve sat down at my computer to see what comes out.  In actuality, this is probably a good exercise for me.  Joe, quite accurately, told me last week that I don’t want to do anything that might be difficult. 

Granted, he told me this on our way out the door for 45 minutes of interval running and walking.  (Let the record show that I would rather eat rocks than run, but I do it occasionally because it’s the easiest way to be outdoors and get my blood pumping.)  At any rate, I was ferociously negotiating how long these intervals were going to last while cursing Joe to everyone we passed on our way out the door.  Then he stopped, looked at me squarely, and said, “If the finalists on the Biggest Loser can run a marathon, you can absolutely run for 8 minutes at a time.”  I immediately countered that they had been training for 17 weeks, but it was a half-hearted attempted at the last word.  (Although, totally true.)

But the thing is: I had been considering his statement well before he said it.  I tend to lack a certain capacity for follow through.  I like things to have a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end.  That way when I reach the end of something, I can see the complete journey, feel a sense of accomplishment, and move on to the next beginning, middle, and end.  However, in the last few years, I have started to absorb the idea that life does not occur as books that you read, finish, put on the shelf and ignore until you box them up.  All decisions have implications, consequences, and ramifications.  It’s the heft of this idea that has led me to Indecision’s neighborhood and knocking on No Follow Through’s door. 

As soon as events start producing a reaction that I can’t name as contentment or eagerness, I assume it means that what I’m doing is wrong.  I lean away from the stimulant in an attempt to get closer to the path of least resistance (which must be the “right” path, of course).  Ask me how well that’s been working for me. 

Not so great, actually.  Why? 

Because that asinine (another word I have always loved) way of thinking has gotten me more and more confused.  It’s like being dropped off in the woods without a compass and the wrong map. It’s a decision-making process rooted in the fear that what I’m currently doing is wrong.  Clearly, if it was “right” it wouldn’t be difficult.  (Imagine me giving myself a look of skepticism.)

I recall 2007 and it’s myriad of challenges. While there seemed to be many points of contention, I particularly remember how strongly aspects of my job rubbed on me.  The friction was almost palpable.  So many things seemed to require every ounce of energy.  It reminds me of a section in the book Eat Pray Love.  Elizabeth Gilbert, the author and main character, is at an Ashram in India*.  Each morning they do this 182 verse chant (the Gurugita) in ancient Sanskrit. She abhors it.  Everything about it infuriates her.  When she goes to the Ashram director (I have no idea what that person’s title actually is, but Ashram director gets the meaning across) the director says:

“But my advice — since you asked — is that you stick to chanting the Gurugita while you’re here, especially because you’re having such an extreme reaction to it.  If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it’s working on you.  This is what the Gurugita does.  It burns away the ego, turns you into pure ash.  It’s supposed to be arduous, Liz.  It has power beyond what can be rationally understood.”

Well, I can understand that.  Not that I’ve ever chanted anything, but my 2007 felt like one long Gurugita session.  However, 2008 was entertainment and 2009 has just been as delightful as drinking lemonade on a summer day.  I mention the difference to point out that 2007 may not have been the most fun I’ve ever had, but I don’t think the last year and a half would have been quite so fulfilling without the tension of that time.  So maybe when things are difficult instead of looking for the nearest exit, I need to push in to it a little more and see what gives.  I may just end up more open, braver, funnier, more creative.

(But don’t think this means I’m going to enjoy running anytime soon.)

*If you don’t know Eat Pray Love it’s not just a book about a woman in India doing yoga and chanting.  She also attempts to eat all the pasta in Rome and meet every person in Bali, Indonesia.  I recommend giving it a purview for anyone in the wake of transition.


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