Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.  
The first question was, "Did you bring joy?"  
The second was, "Did you find joy?"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stalling Out

It has been a year since I've posted to this blog. I'd like to report that that is because I've been too busy with one grand adventure after another. It's true that I have gone on a few trips, done a show or two, taught a fair number of acting classes, did the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk and all the training that required. But mostly I have just been spinning my wheels, so much so that it felt as if my engine was near to stalling out completely.

With the arrival of 2010, I watched all my friends shed the first decade of this century with relief and a sure determination that 2010 is going to bring a sea change of hope, love, work, joy, money. I, meanwhile, just felt more in the dark, stuck in a stagnant pool of dark and murky water~a lotus in winter, unsure how i was ever going to reach the sunlight again and what the world would look like if i did, somehow, manage to poke my head out of the water once again.

When I took my trip to the British Isles two years ago, the trip that prompted this blog in the first place, I became very comfortable with those travel days that included multiple buses and train rides just to get from one small town to the next. I made peace with the hours spent waiting on platforms, lugging my suitcase up and down smelly stairwells filled with busy commuters who all knew exactly where they were going and needed to get there fast, even if that meant knocking me and my weary body against the wall as they speed by. I learned to believe in the old adage, "it's about the journey, not the destination."

But in those interminable days of trains and buses there was always the knowledge that I would be somewhere new and exciting at the end of the day. Some of the towns that took the longest to get to I had been waiting to see for most of my 38 years.

Stagnation is an all together different kind of place. This last year I've felt as if I was stuck on a train platform unable to remember where I was going, out of money to buy a ticket even if I could remember, my cell phone had died and I couldn't call anyone for help. Sure friends show up on their way to places they need to go, we chat, I tell them my story, they offer to help, even to buy me a ticket somewhere, but really they had to focus on their own journey and it became increasingly clear that I needed to find my own way out of the station.

This is not the first time that I've felt stuck in my life. In the past, I've prayed for other people to rescue me, even begged for help when all seemed dark and unfamiliar. I've glued myself to people and relationships for safety and comfort, I've convinced myself that certain classes or things would bring me enlightenment or fill the unknowing places in me with purpose and vision.

Just last Spring I decided that I absolutely must must must move from my home in Seattle, maybe to Chicago or New York, though Paris would be my first choice, I became obsessed with looking online at real estate around the world. It became a hunger. I started grieving for my life in Seattle and told myself that it was time to make this change and that the grief was a necessary part of the separation process and the hunger to move a sure sign that relocating would shed light on the wealth of unknown factors in my life.

Then, suddenly, something shifted, almost on a dime, and I knew something. I knew exactly one thing. I knew this: that when the real next step in my life becomes clear I will not feel desperation or grief. I knew that staying still and waiting, not moving was what I had to do...for the time being....until I was excited and sure about moving forward again. Since I had this epiphany a few months ago, I've started relating to stagnation, should I say stillness, in a different way. I've started sitting with the questions, the unknowns in my life. When someone asks me what I'm doing next, I just say, "I have no idea."

Though there is a grace to living with all the questions, embracing this prolonged pit stop of my life, I have become increasingly enervated and lethargic. A couple of days ago I returned from a visit in Maine to see my brother. My trusty car would not start. I tried jump-starting it, but the battery was dead and gone. I've had the car for seven years. I bought it right after my dad died, right about the time I began what has been a seven year journey of grief, darkness, loneliness, re-birth, and a new love-affair with my own life. I left that car at home when I took myself to Europe and learned how to open my heart to the world and to trust my own company, my own gut instincts. The car battery had been dead when I came home from that trip, too. But then I could jump start it, bring the old battery back to life. Since then, however, neither the car, or myself have run with the same vigor and intensity as we did before. When the battery died this time, I did what I had to do, called the tow service, sent the car to the dealership, shelled out 300 bucks for a new battery and installation. All the while feeling lower and more tired as if my own personal engine had finally completely given out.

Then I picked up the car.

What a difference a new battery can make. Yowza. I'd forgotten my car could feel so zippy and fun to drive. I literally giggled as I pulled away from the service station.

The next day I started writing again. I created a new blog that I'm very excited about. I'm so intrigued to see where it goes; it's more interactive. I really hope other people decide to play.

That was yesterday.

And here I am today, really writing again for the first time in ages.

This is the next step.

My engine is running again.

Let's see where it takes me now.

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