Because I have spent a lot of my life researching the brain trying to figure out what is going faulty with my own electrical system I have come to rest at…
a. no one really knows why some electrical firing systems go haywire or chemicals are elevated in some and not in others
b. there are more wonky functioning brains (depression, migraine, anxiety, schizophrenia, adhd, bipolar etc) than there are genius, calm, happy brains. We think about Elon Musk brains but how many of him are out there? You’re in good company if you’re sorta broken.
c. back to step one, no one really knows but hypotheses abound and there is a drug for every Maybe It’s This? I have chosen not to be a lab rat of the pharmaceutical industry (and to be fair, I’m not a good candidate for meds, they all seem to manifest unfavorable results on me, I am who the Black Box Warning was created for) so I white knuckle through a lot of brain pain with arnica gel, salt water and meditation.
*newly minted in a medical marijuana state I have just begun to experiment with microdosing weed. I’m not a pot smoker, nothing against it, it’s just never been my thing, but I’m ignorant.
Lately I’ve become fascinated by my mind’s need to look for distraction even after all my decluttering, downsizing, paring down and closing doors. Not just the get lost in a photo album or magazine while putting laundry away chowder head, or the Crazy Busy Syndrome of imaginary self importance they need me distractions. If you are younger and have kids (the ultimate distraction) or work as an air traffic controller you probably are *busy* but by choice, I’m not necessarily talking to you. You’re welcomed to stay though, you’ll get there one day. Empty nest, retired, divorced, orphaned, life threatening situation, it happens. But the over 50, child free, self employed, minimalist folks. After you’ve down sized with the goal that you don’t want to take care of all the crap and clean all the rooms that house the crap. You’re no longer shopping for crap. Pinteresting crap. When you start saying no thank you to dinners with people who leave you feeling, meh. After deaths of loved ones who maybe you were taking care of. Forever. When you’ve dropped addictive behaviors like booze, smoking, fixing yourself, supplement shopping, dog rescuing, extreme exercising/yoga, worrying, tv watching, sex partner hunting, spiritualism—— I could go on.
My mind has historically been a bit of a Border Collie. Looking for things to do, doing them well, doing them obsessively, moving on to the next thing immediately upon completion of last thing. I was creating fires where there were none so I’d have a problem to solve. Nothing major or permanent (no babies, no tattoos, no dope) but I’d get into low spots if I didn’t feel relevant, needed, DIY, hero-ish. None of the Border Collie traits are bad, per se, but they aren’t sustainable. Good for chefs and restaurant owners until we spontaneously combust. We eventually hit a wall of adrenal gland burn out or other stress induced life ruining malady.
When you run out of ideas to fix your own life, you’ll try to branch out and fix other people. This will be fun for a time but people who want help or know that they need help exactly at the moment you are being Needy McHelp Giver? Rare. Then you’re just intrusive. I caved under the pressure after a decade of restaurant ownership and sold my businesses and relocated the Border Collie.
After moving to the middle of nowhere rural Georgia to a farm with a big old weird house, I had TONS of projects. Relocated, but still a Border Collie. But with no end goal, timeline, boss, budget…I did all the things. All of them. Often in tandem. When I look back at a decade of how it turned out, it looks like it grew organically and slowly over time with a plan. None of that is true. I learned a lot and had many many experiences and I didn’t go bankrupt. Close, but not actually. I’ve mostly been rewarded in life for being an early bird control freak ambition junkie.
Most things at the Hacienda started with me calling old man Danny with the back hoe and going from there. Let’s tear out this sidewalk. That would require moving block, selling/repurposing usable flagstone, relining the path, redesigning the shape of the path, researching feng shui of how paths shouldn’t be a straight line to the door, speaking of the door, that should be red, considering the chi blocks in my life from this wrong shaped path at my door and figuring out why they were possibly making me nervous/sick/draining money/needing a new boyfriend/fat, ordering gravel for path, calling the helpers to move the gravel for the path, making lunch for the helpers, having sex with one of the helpers after moving gravel, buying plants for the path, looking at solar lights for the path, needing to rewire the existing lights adjacent to the path because the back hoe dug up a wire that wasn’t marked, committing to marking cables outside and in the breaker box inside, regretting having sex with the helpers, taking photos before and after the path for social media and eventually losing interest in the path after completed in 3 days and $800 later.
Mission Accomplished. Now let’s move on the wood shop, pool filling, compost business, furniture building, tomato growing, fish harvesting, fence building, full exterior paint redo, rental apartment tenant search, tincture making, tincture selling business label making, branding—-thing. Tail chasing. If you’ve ever had a Border Collie you know that they are just that way and you need to fill their days. We live a lot longer than Border Collies so we have to figure out another way to be in this world. I had to metaphorically tie my hands behind my back and leave it all behind or I’d still be there tinkering well into my grave.
On a good day, I say I’m a Project Person. In my darker hours, a Fire Starter. I’m self aware enough to see what I’m doing shortly after I’ve done it. I usually realize I’ve carved the boulder I am trapped beneath about 5 years in, and it takes me 5 years to chisel my way out of it. And then I get amnesia. Maybe I could…? Decade long life experiments after 50 hold less appeal for obvious reason. Financial fatigue, dwindling hormones, limited time and dare I say, insight, have made me cautious. Ambivalent even. I’ll ruin your project too. If you’re underfunded, lack experience, are about to sign your life away to a greedy landlord, talk to me first. I’m the opposite of a Dream Catcher. It feels sad. But is it?
In the 6 months that I drove around North and Central America after I sold all of my possessions and home, trying to see What Next, I had many This Is It! moments. Little dopamine glimmers that made me think it’s a Sign from the Universe. New Rule: if you sleep on it, it’ll pass. I nearly bought a house in Central Georgia, opened a grocery store, moved to the Pacific Coast of Mexico to open a BnB, moved to a sailboat, an inn in Nova Scotia, went to truck driving school, bought a condo to flip in Florida, bought a huge RV rig to drive all over the continent—-All to appease my niggling brain. I’m glad I did nothing. A lot of days I spin around and look for things I Need To Do and chew on my foot. It’s torture. But sitting here today in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a studio with a glass roll up door watching the rain, all of those choices would be a hard NO. I’m sure I won’t sit here forever, but making myself sit here for now is good medicine.
I used to take pride in my decision making abilities, but now? things are less imperative. The FOMO wanes. Driving ourselves to perfection stops. If Donald Trump has taught us one thing, it’s that you can be a complete goofball layabout, watch bad TV and eat fried chicken with a silly wig and still come to run the highest office in the land and ruin everything. So give yourself a break if you didn’t KonMari the kitchen last weekend.
I get asked all the time, ‘aren’t you gonna buy a house/open a cafe/start a business’ in my new town. Nope. Maybe. I don’t know. I know it’s just folks making conversation and I usually remind us all that 90 days in a town is not enough time to launch an entrepreneurial rocket. One thing that nature does (if we opt not to ramp up on nootropics, hormone replacement and amphetamines) is dull the endorphin rush of impulse. Slowing down gives you the time to re-consider the potentially ridiculous thing you are about to do. It’s not always skydiving, sometimes it’s a living room redo, starting a bakery in that abandoned building, giving online dating another try or getting a puppy. If you wait, you’ll find that it’s probably unnecessary, a waste of energy and money and go for a walk with the old dog you already have.
But aren’t we supposed to fill our days with activity? I guess. But what about the Dali Lama? The urge to fill the plate after clearing the plate is huge. It’s like sitting in an empty gymnasium after the game. Echoes and ghosts. When the goal was simplifying and you’ve marked that off the to do list, you’ll notice a sinkhole where the old chores/drama/caretaking used to be. A happy accident of changing to a uniform of 10 things and keeping all my clothing one color? I spend exactly 40 minutes at a laundromat and $3 each week on laundry. $6 on sheet and towel weeks. Not so happy accidents of losing a loved one is not having to clean up and care for someone when they don’t want you to (or recognize you) in their final days. It doesn’t make you miss them any less and you’ll find yourself picking up the phone to call them sometimes. It’s debilitating for a long time. Our knee jerk is to fill the hole before all the tears wash us down the gutter, but maybe, just maybe, if we sit in the hole for a while we can take another path, with care, when we emerge?
I’m not afraid to admit that I just don’t want to be bothered by anything. That is an umbrella of coverage ranging from itchy t-shirt tags to large gatherings of people at concerts, parks, festivals, shopping arenas and airports or working 60 hours a week. They say to break a habit you must replace it with a good habit. I agree but I also think it’s okay to sit in the Empty Void. Our need to brush off and keep it moving sort of keeps us on the surface layer of the mind, and I don’t know of course, but I think the mind is a tricky bitch that may have buried treasure inside if we are patient. She will throw pebbles at the window of Easy Fix so that you’ll give her what she wants in the short haul. But like feeding a dog at the table, you’ll never be able to break that habit unless you stop rewarding that behavior. Something new will show itself. Sit. Stay.