It’s about 1.55am, and I realise that I’m pursuing what I think my body needs, rather than what my body is telling me, bellowing, it needs. Not sleep, but serenity. And this is what came out next.
Anxiety has been drying out and excavating a canyon in my lungs and lower back for about five hours now; an attack, the likes of which I may have felt before but I’m sure my brain has put behind a wall. It’s physically painful. But more than that, it’s disappointing. I fly to Japan in about five hours’ time, and I realise that unless I can feel this out now, it’s going to be much less than it could be, an exercise in overthought and not one of adventure, like the universe had-in keeping me busier than I can recall being-prepared for me. I chose to spend my last night at home, in bed with my human-for-life and our two dalmatian daughters, and it doesn’t take long for me to realise that for all their snoring, sulking and space-hogging, that they have blissfully brought to life my single greatest fear:
That I have got everything I wanted.
I will watch their sleeping forms until I wake up, because I can’t go to sleep now, because this moment is one I want to tattoo into my psyche: only one of them has the sense that I had given it all up – happiness, and contentment. It blows my mind that they love me. Even when I spoil it, say the wrong thing, however selfish or sour I can be, they love me. When I am generous, when I am patient, when I am firm, when I am open, they love me. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I test, they love me. And for all I am so deeply anxious and afraid to have so much to lose, I know I earned it. We did. We sacrificed, and we gambled, but we got here. And I’m so glad we made it.
When it comes to the love of a man, I’m a bit of a Hero. Not like with superpowers and a tingling sensation for innocents needing help (although…), but like the Hero of the Greek myth. Hero lives on one side of a strait, and Leander, her lover, on the other. Nightly she leaves a light on to guide him, and he swims the channel to be with her. One night, a storm rages and gusts blow out Hero’s lamp, and in the churning waves, Leander drowns. When I first heard this story, it ached with recognition in my loneliness. Because I am hard to reach; and though I will give my all, and show my depth, on my island I have been content to wait for love to prove itself after many years of seeing it fail. I meet men who mean it, and in my pendulum soul that swings between desperate desire and incomparable independence, I can appear too much. But I can feel something different today – an itching in my palms, ready to build a bridge, or a boat, or a boardwalk and no longer wait for him to wash in, but courier myself to him halfway and in hands calloused with care and courage, caress his weary but welcome shape.
This time last year, I wrote a blog about stepping back from the purposeless promulgation of my opinion through social media, about changing my strategy for life: not to write what I know, but what I do. And therefore, make my life worth writing about, worth reading. In the space of the past twelve months, I have:
- quit my job
- started two new jobs
- felt love
- put creative projects into practice
- moved state
- moved house
- mended bad relationships
- made peace with lost relationships
- had no money
- started a Master’s degree
- seen a therapist more than three times
- felt relentless guilt
- been so anxious I vomited and came within a hair of soiling myself
- saved a life
- planned my life, and future little lives
By the time this year is out, I’ll have performed again across the country, and put plans in place to do so across the planet. I’ll have visited the country I have been wanting to visit for nearly twenty years, seven of which I spent studying the language. Plus I’ll see a new place I never thought I’d visit. I’ll be travelling on my own, but I have a foundation of family so firm beneath me, I look forward to being home. I’ll have made it halfway through further study. I’ll have another new job, and my new dream will be hardening it’s lines and colouring itself in. And my person will be along her journey too.
What I’m saying is: the time it takes between deciding to stop dreaming and start doing, and those dreams becoming real things, is swifter than it may read on paper. The life lived where nothing you’re doing serves your deepest, darkest, most delirious, perhaps even most shameful, ambitions, is tortuously slow.
So I just kinda did the things I knew I had to. I met with a financial adviser and made a plan (because although my debt is a multiple-tens-of-thousands obstacle, it’s not an excuse) so I could quit my job and find a new one in the industry I wanted to take a second shot at. I asked for the job that I wanted. I got a psychologist in Adelaide, because she was the best, and made Skype sessions work. I accepted help from friends, and when it all went pear-shaped, I didn’t stop accepting. I got up early. I went to bed late. I fell back into old unhealthy habits, and asked for help again. I made room for imperfection and fault. I took blame where it was warranted, and I took pride in what I create. I budgeted. I over-committed, so sometimes I cancelled. I pretended to be the person I was beneath the pain. I phoned things in. I missed deadlines. I renegotiated payment plans. I did whatever it took to be able to make the dream of seeing one idea I had be something I could put in a program come true. And if you look closely at the above image, you’ll see I’m doing just that.
The way we share our lives now is a vortex: sucking content from us for the wealth of people we will never meet, but in our sociopolitical setting, always resent. Take a second to think about what you’re printing in permanent ink on the internet, and spend that second aligning the post to the point: do you want to connect? do you want to vent? do you want to increase your self? do you want to “build your brand”?
This past year has taught me that “now” is all we’ve got. Not literally, but in terms of our mindset for what path we set our lives on, and what gear we’re in. There will never be a “right time”, you will never have “enough money”, you will never achieve “once I’ve done this, then that”, you will never feel “like you’re ready”. I’m not saying force it. I’m saying, don’t wait for every green light on the whole strip to light up before you rev your engine. If you know where you’re going? Then go. Chip away at it, one step at a time, little by little, peaks and troughs, plateau then push. Book the flight, book the venue, book the fertility specialist, book the course, book the headhunter, book the dinner date, book the book-reading-quiet-time.