The Source of the Fear

IMG_4020It’s amazing what a shower will do for one’s spirits. This is a small sign that was taped to the marina counter. Given last night’s rant, it seemed aimed directly at me. Point taken. [Because if I were anywhere in the US where it’s freezing cold right now and I read that rant from someone in the Caribbean, I’d be thinking, Just shut the hell up. You’re in the damn Caribbean!].

But not to the extent of deleting that blog post. This functions as my journal and will be my memories of the trip and all those petty annoyances are part of it. But that’s all they are – just a part of it. And a very small one at that. And, they were only symptoms – not the actual source of the problem. The source of the problem is my old frenemy … Fear. It rears its fearsome head and has me focusing on inconsequential things rather than actually dealing with the meaningful stuff. As Matt would ask, “What’s the source of the fear?”

I don’t know. Or maybe I do know but don’t want to think about it.

The source is not the long passage ahead of us or the boys’ potential seasickness or the unknown or any of that. It’s that heading east is a sign of the beginning of the end of the trip. And my fear has been (and is) that I will arrive at the end of this trip unchanged. I had a set of Post-It notes that said:

       I meditate. I drink green tea. I light candles.   … And still, I want to smack someone.

Those Posts-It notes really resonated with me. A lot. Frankly, they still do. And that scares me a little. Because I’d really like to come back from this trip as a wiser, more patient, loving and kind person. A bit more Zen-like. Less self, more selfless. And I’m just not sure I am any closer to that goal than when I started out. I told Matt that sometimes I’d like to self-lobotomize. Is that even possible?

Matt says that when we get to the Bahamas, he wants to find a place to anchor the boat and just stay in one spot and rest. He looks at me pointedly as he says this. “You have the habit,” he says, “of wanting to see and do everything. It can be exhausting.”

This is true. I always think I can do everything. At an academic conference, I once heard a female speaker say, “I finally realized I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.” My immediate internal question to this was Why not? Although maybe the answer to the ‘why not’ is because it’s exhausting to try and do everything. Which makes me wonder – did I feel I had to extricate myself from our life because our life was exhausting … or was it because I am exhausting? That I actually exhaust myself (and those around me). Has that part of me changed/shifted/been fixed? I guess only time will tell. Someone once told me that if you make a major life change (e.g., job, spouse, geographic move) and you are still dealing with the same ‘stuff,’ then it’s time to look at the stuff. Although maybe the bottom line is So what? So what if I’m still the same? Does it even matter? Maybe the more important thing is that we did it. We set off on this trip and left our life despite the fear. Maybe that is enough. I read something today that said, “The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.”

I talked to Matt about some of this internal existential angst. Thankfully, I have a partner who seems to go through life a bit more gracefully than I do and is probably eons ahead of me in personal growth. His perspective on the value of the trip (beyond the obvious such as all the cool things we’ve seen, the adventures, the invaluable time we’ve had with the boys, etc.) is to arrive back in Cleveland and (re)create our life and realize that everything is ok. To personally experience the realization that you can just pack up and step out of your life and then, later, step back into it. That, he said, would be a really cool and worthwhile thing to realize. To know that it can be done. To have done it.