Sweeping Up the Endless Mess Like a Volunteer Janitor
I am feeling a lot of anxiety about this next phase of my life.
Things That Are New, Changing, or Happening More Often
- I have things to say, and I'm figuring out how best to say them. For instance, I speak on panels at conferences, and I recently spoke at a TEDx event. I thoroughly enjoy it, I do it well, and I want to figure out how to do more of this kind of thing.
- The Palinode and I are a hair's breadth away from owning our first home. If all goes well, it will be ours at the end of the month.
- I am at a point in my self-made, work-at-home creative career where I am confronting my own limitations and learning how to be and do what I need to be and do.
- I'm turning 40 in December.
All of these things are conspiring to fill me with self-doubt and fear and deep, sleep-stealing angst about how I am going to die at some point between right this second and, if my genetics win out and a bus doesn't hit me, 40 to 60 years from now.
I feel like I'm being asked to completely re-envision myself.
For the last several years I've at turns been the tortured cubicle serf, the person with cancer, the cancer survivor, the alcoholic, the depression and anxiety sufferer, the queer it-gets-better-er, etc. As much as those things still affect me — I still have to deal with the depression and anxiety, I'm sober but thirsty, and the other stuff is just sticky in their own ways — I don't really feel defined by any of it anymore. They are parts of my life now that add to my definition rather than being the definition itself.
Moving, or possibly moving, out of this apartment in this building where we've been through almost all of our married life's tragedies cements this shift. We're no longer defined by a series of tragedies and heavy issues. They're old news now, and we've got stuff going on.
I'm not ready for moving. I'm not ready for dead leaves to be on the ground already. I'm not ready.
I wonder what we're ever really ready for, anyway. You're told you're having a girl, and then the baby comes out with a penis attached. You go to university with a supposed passion for art and then find out that Biology gets you hot in a way that Life Drawing never does. You thought you'd go to seminary to become a minister but couldn't get past the discovery of your inner atheist enough to pay your tuition.
We pretend to know what's next sometimes, and on occasion we even believe that the future has a solidity to it that it just doesn't have, but the truth is that we almost never get what we thought we were going to get, and, when we do get what we thought we would, we often don't feel the way we imagined we would about it.
We get what we get.
Everything feels like it's shifting around on me, both literally and metaphorically, and I'm panicking about it. I want everything to magically line up and point in one direction so I can see more clearly where I'm headed, who I am becoming, what it's about.
I tasked myself with writing a mission statement a few weeks ago, but I'm going to let that one go for the timebeing. If I did write it now, it would go something like this:
Vision: Make stuff and help people.
Mission: Make stuff and help people.
Strategy: Make stuff and help people.
Goal: Make stuff and help people.
Objective: Make stuff and help people.
Action Plan: Make stuff and help people.
So, I'm just going to keep taking my vitamins, hope this new home pans out over the next two weeks, get my anxiety under control, push through these heavy workweeks I've got ahead, and turn 40.
With all the perpetual change that's going on everywhere in the universe, you'd think we would have evolved to embrace it a little more instead of being compelled to glue all the stray bits together and sweep up the endless mess like volunteer janitors.