Friday, November 6, 2009

Turn Left

Nobody said it was easy. I didn’t think it would be this hard. Some drivel from Coldplay which seems to be running through my head a lot recently. I’ve decided I don’t really like Coldplay anymore so I honestly can’t tell you the context for the line, but I’ve decided it resonates with me because it applies to my life. Seriously, is life such an epic struggle for everybody or is it just me? An informal survey of friends would suggest I’m not alone in feeling this way. It’s not that life is a struggle in the sense of something truly catastrophic happening *frantically knocking wood.* Sure, plenty of wicked crap has happened to me, like most people, over the years. People die. People dump you. People stalk you. People rob you. All traumatizing events, to be sure but when I look at my life overall I’ve been pretty lucky as far as big problems go *maniacally knocking wood.* Not to mention that you find ways of dealing the big things. For whatever reason, things we imagine will undo us usually don’t. It’s the small things that get you. Life will beat you down with a host of petty annoyances and minor disappointments. If those don’t get you, the tedious, day-after-day grind will. I feel like I struggle just to get through each day. Except Wednesdays, of course because Wednesdays have Glee and Glee makes me, well, gleeful!

The struggle goes something like this: Wake up. Curse the fact it isn’t Saturday (unless it is Saturday in which case do a mental happy dance and go back to sleep). Drag self out of bed. Get ready for work. Feed monsters. Go to Starbuck’s to spend 20-30 minutes writing because if I don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. Dreadful commute to dreadful job. Dreadful job happens from 9-5, but often keeps happening after 5. A day in the Pit of Despair generally consists of being disregarded for long periods of time interspersed with being treated with the type of disdain generally reserved for dog shit on someone’s shoe. Occasionally you will be on the receiving end of a tantrum thrown by one bitch or another. Last week’s bitch was named Jon. At some point I finish work and go to the gym (yea me!). If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, I shower and head over to the clinic where I see clients. My clients are infinitely more sane and pleasant than 99% of the people I work with at The Pit of Despair, btw. And yes, they are mental health clients. Drive home. Feed monsters. Eat dinner while watching something on TiVo. Attempt to sort mail and banish chaos. Wash dishes. Collapse into bed and brace myself for it to start all over again in a few hours. I often get Saturdays off which means I can clean, run errands, study, do laundry. Or sit in catatonic state. I seem to go with option two more often lately. Sundays I’m back at the clinic. There are also various meetings and trainings thrown in here and there for good measure (and to ensure I have no time for a life) and I’m working on a fundraising event right now. Fundraising, btw, is a living nightmare, but that’s another blog.

Like most of my friends, I look around and think Wow…This is not what I expected my life would look like. I realize I’ve made poor decisions in life to get to this place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was giving $20 blow jobs to fund my crack habit or anything. I tend to be motivated more by fear than anything else so I cling on to bad jobs, bad people, etc . for far too long. We often look at people who engage in a lot of high-risk behavior (the $20 crack whore, for instance) and think “well, things aren’t going to work out for her.” I think the same is true for the people on the other end of the spectrum who don’t engage in enough risk. If you play it too safe, you’re going to miss out on opportunities. Being too wedded to a sense of security can keep you stuck in a job that has long since stopped being a good fit for you. It can keep you in relationships that are no longer functional. Sure it can keep you from getting hurt, but it can also keep you from getting what you want. We settle for less than we deserve because we are afraid to do anything else. A friend and I have been desperately trying to figure out the exact moments in which we turned right instead of left in our lives (referencing the episode Turn Left from Doctor Who series four, of course). I think the answer is we didn’t turn right at all. We just kept going straight. The person motivated by fear doesn’t pick a new road. They stay with the road they know--straight ahead, no chancing turning down a side street. Something bad could happen on a side street. The only problem with just going in a straight line is, eventually, you run out of road. And whether you hit a wall , fall off a cliff or just get stuck in a big muddy field, it’s not pretty. Eleanor Roosevelt said "do one thing every day that scares you." I've been experimenting with this idea and you know what? I think I'm going to take that next left and see where it takes me. I'd say it couldn't be any worse, but I'm not stupid enough to tempt The Universe that way.


Imogen Theenks said...

Great post. Taking risks is hard to do, but I try to remind myself, what will happen if I don't? Everything will stay the same. And the "same ol' same ol" isn't good enough for me. I've lost on many risks but if I hadn't taken the risks, I would have never met a great friend like Helen. Just to name an example. Jump in with both feet Helen and go swimming! You will always have me rooting you on!

Dee Murray said...

That is a really awesome post!!! And I think you may be on to something! Perhaps there was no turn right...doing something out of RE-action rather than action is exactly the opposite of turning at all! It's like a mouse in a maze: doesn't matter what road you take, there is only one way out. Not the way to live a life, I say!