The Inevitable Path

I promised an article on Repetitive Stress today, but I’m having technical difficulties. You’ll understand if I manage to resolve them, or I’ll explain if I don’t.

Like many of you, I have spent the weeks since Christmas cleaning all the things.(1) This included giving away many of the things. Yesterday, I gave away the diaper bag and the last of the cloth diapers. Not weepy at all. I don’t miss diapers, and fuzzy newborn heads, and breastfeeding challenges, and being awake for months at a time. I did those things, and I’m glad that I did, but I don’t want to do them again. But I had a moment of anxiety bordering on panic to let those things go.  It is not that I fear that I’m going to change my mind. Letting go of the baby things is an acknowledgement that I am moving on to another stage in my life.

It is interesting to live inside this head.(2) I find myself talking in the abstract about aging and dying, and obsessions with immortality, and I can be calm about it all. I don’t want to live forever; I can’t imagine what I would do with eternity. But I don’t really believe it’s going to happen to me. Maybe at some distant, inconceivable time in the future, but… you know. Not really. But then I find myself putting my glasses on top of my head, looking at the wrinkles in the middle of my forehead, giving away the baby things because I’m moving on to junior high issues, and it seems a little more likely. I, Seonaid, am also going to get old, get sick, and die. If I’m lucky.

I’m not completely in denial about this. I’m not dressing like a teenager, or seeking out botox injections or plastic surgery. I did start taking Taekwondo, but I don’t think my SI joint is going to take it. I’m starting to break down. And someday I’m going to die.

Honestly, this is always lurking around the back of my mind. I’m terrified of running out of time, of not finishing the bucket list, of leaving my children with no mother, of not making something of this precious human birth.  I’ve been running scared my entire adult life, but my mother assures me that I started out this way. I came into the world wanting to stay up for the party. She calls it FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. I think she’s bang on.

Unfortunately, it must be tempered with FOBO – Fear of Burning Out, which is how I came to meditation. I can spend my life running scared, and I will still die someday, but I can just about guarantee that approach won’t leave me prepared. Or I can work with it, accept my mortality, and make choices that leave me feeling like it mattered that I was here. Some days it feels like I’m getting it. And other days I awake in the grip of sheer panic that time is slipping away. At least on those days I have some coping strategies that keep me somewhat mindful.

Touch. And go. Hand the box of diapers to somebody else, at some other point on the path. And come back to the breath. Again. (6/362)

1. BTW, I think that congratulations are due to Hyperbole and a Half for coining a new phrase. And making us laugh until things come out our noses.
2. That’s really what I’m doing here, in the land of the blog. My most nagging question is, “What is it like to be somebody else?” Since I want everybody to tell me that, and it’s kind of a difficult question, I’ll go first by putting myself out here.

One response to “The Inevitable Path”

  1. I’ve been looking at this a little closely lately (the whole concept of dying).

    Given that a sharp shock (or even a light thump) to my torso or skull right now could trigger internal bleeding that I may or may not get to the hospital in time to do anything about, there’s a real chance I could die for what would be a truly stupid reason.

    Plus, if you listen to my sister and my husband, it might not be ITP and might be something much more sinister.

    Long run though? This is me – I can worry about dying, or I can trust that I’ve done the things I need to ensure the important stuff – my son will be taken care of financially, my spouse will have the support he needs to be able to take care of my son & himself emotionally and there won’t be any major “holy crap” moments of stuff that needs to be done. I mean, there may well be, but I’ve done what I can to keep them to a minimum.

    As for the “have I done enough with my life”, I’ve been surrounded by people dying, quickly and slowly, for most of the past decade. It made me start looking at what was happening in my life and making me ask “if some hits the off switch today, am I good with what I’ve done.” Where I wasn’t (like say – starting a new theatre company, like I said I was going to do for years), I changed my life. Where it wasn’t something that bothered me, I left it.

    Ultimately, I don’t think I’m going to be one of the earth shattering difference makers for the world at large. And I’m remarkably good with that. I know I’ve made the difference I wanted to.

    People who refer to me as a mentor do good things in the world – create art, call for moderation in argument (yes, that one blows my mind too), and generally love each other a little more.

    That’s not such a bad legacy if the world ends today for me.

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