Perhaps You’re Not as Far as You Think
I’ve been struggling lately.
It’s my age-old nemesis of not having enough money. It’s a sad, boring story that has become my life: on auto-repeat.
Insert yawn here.
(And it was just made worse hearing a good friend tell me how his teenage son is making $2,000/mo., whilst in high school, with an online yard-cleaning business.)
Mid-life started knocking a couple of years ago. I’m at the top of the proverbial roller-coaster. Projecting forward, things start declining. The roller-coaster speeds down the hill way more quickly than it went up.
But I’ve still got time to make something happen.
It’s an ever-accelerating race to the bottom of the toilet bowl, says George Carlin, and the circles just keep getting faster and faster. He’s talking about the demise of Capitalism, but perhaps it’s true for my life, as well.
I’m in my peak earning potential years, they say–and I despise that kind of language.
Not just because I’m (seemingly) failing at life, either.
I despise it because it reinforces a really bad idea: that life is linear; that to get from A to C, we have to go through B first.
I’m on a couple of dating sites (ok, maybe Tinder isn’t a dating site), and I’m noticing a common occurrence of women saying they are looking for a man who has his life together.
Well, that effectively rules me out from about 90% of the dating world.
My life is definitely not, in any way, shape or form, what we might call, together. It’s the antithesis of together–at least in the conventional sense.
But first we have to address the big-ass ass-umption in the room: that having one’s life together is really such a good thing.
Go to college, they say. Get a job, they say. Get married, they say. Make babies, they say. Work hard, they say. Save, they say. Get ahead, they say…
How’s that working for most people?
They are working two or three jobs and never getting ahead; never catching a break.
I watch adults adulting, and it seems very much like Sisyphus rolling that rock up the hill, only to have to do the very same thing the next day. And the next. And the next. Until they die.
Before I get too depressing with this post (too late?), let me get back to my original idea: that life isn’t linear–and, perhaps, living as if it is is causing people a lot of unnecessary stress and disease. Dis-ease.
Yes, it seems rational.
Kind of like how Newton wasn’t completely wrong when he developed a mechanistic view of the Universe. It’s partially correct (and that’s exactly what makes it so dangerous), but it doesn’t tell the full story. There’s also a quantum path, on the subatomic level, where particles don’t follow the rules.
And to echo the words of Coolio, maybe there’s a better way than to follow the old paradigm of working hard to succeed.
After all, twelve year olds are creating apps that will make more money (while they’re sleeping) than you’ll ever see working your ass off at your corporate job, fighting traffic and missing your kids’ soccer games.
I did a labyrinth in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. You enter and walk around until you eventually get to the middle, which we might seem like the point of the labyrinth: to get there—the holy grail–the center of the elusive tootsie-pop.
And then you go backwards until you’re out again.
What’s interesting, though, is that you wind aground and walk in weird back-n-forth patterns to get to the center. It’s not linear. Each labyrinth is different, and in many, you actually may get really close to the center pretty early on, only to find yourself on the outer edge a few moments later. It can be pretty disconcerting–and trippy–and feel like a giant tease.
Is life is a giant tease?
If we look at the labyrinth as a metaphor for life, it’s like one giant episode of Wile E. Coyote & the Roadrunner. The harder he tries (and he goes about it in a very systematic, rational way, doesn’t he?!) to catch the Roadrunner, the more futile his pursuit seems to be!
Maybe there is an incredible secret hidden in this cartoon. I love how the Roadrunner just mocks him. It’s a game for the Roadrunner–fun!–but it’s a very serious task for Mr. Coyote.
I feel like my approach to success in life might be too serious, too, at times. I get down on myself for not being further along (and having my shit together).
Some days I feel like I’m on the outer-most edge of that labyrinth, with gravity starting to release its grip on me. I feel like I’m about to drift into the dark abyss of the lonely universe (like this first scene from the movie, Gravity).
It’s a terrifying experience!
What if this is as good as it gets?
What if I never make the kind of impact I want to make?
What if I start losing my hair, remain broke and never get to create an incredible life with an amazing partner?
And those questions really beg the ultimate question:
When do you let go of your dreams
and choose to be practical instead?
When do I?
I won’t lie. Recently, I’ve gotten close. I’ve–gasp!–even started looking at full-time jobs online. I’ve even considered moving back to Florida–Florida!–where I’d be closer to family and my wonderful support system.
Both of these represent, fundamentally, giving up. I’m not saying that’s the truth of it. But in my cosmology, that’s how it seems.
I realize that I’m offering more questions than answers–and that’s somewhat my point. Maybe we live life from a place of too many answers, and not enough questions.
Life, for me, is always beckoning me…
As the great poet, Rilke, said:
And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
I’ve chosen to live with less assurances–to let it ride, so to speak. To trust that the Universe has my back.
I’m experimenting with life–playing, if you will–and seeing what comes back.
And, yes, it often seems like I’m far away from the juicy center, on the periphery, and that I’ll never make my dreams happen.
But maybe life is like that labyrinth. Maybe we don’t know what’s around the bend. Maybe life is more about listening to your heart, your dreams, plotting your course, and trekking in that direction–and keeping on trekking–even when it seems like you’re not going anywhere.
No doubt, it’s a HUGE leap of faith. But we’re all dying in the end, aren’t we?
Just like the journey of the labyrinth, maybe I’m not as far away as I think. And maybe neither are you.
But there’s only one way to know…