“You have to arrange to get really tired of yourself.”
The quote above is from poet/author/speaker David Whyte. He’s referring to how we little blobs of clay often need to hit a wall in order to shake things up and get our lives moving again. When I repeat this quote to people, I often receive a squinty-eyed stare in response, a stare that says, “Kate, what the hell are you talking about, ‘Arrange to get really tired of yourself?’” To which I respond, “Yes.”
Yes, I know exactly what Whyte is talking about, because I have arranged to become very, very tired of myself, and it has worked. I am over myself. Kaput. Quits. Done.
For months I’ve been logging my meander through some dark and difficult terrain, chronicling my attempts to slash through the dense brush of illness and anxiety. It’s been sucky, and I’ve not kept that fact a secret. In fact, I’ve been talking about, thinking about, writing and kvetching about how sucky it all is, until recently I overheard myself going over the same old lines and thought, “Oh my God. I do not like the person I’ve become.” Negative. Whiny. Fearful. I’ve been wishing for someone or something to save me, pull me out, solve my problems, rescue me. In a word, I’ve become a victim. Ack! I hate that word! I hate to admit to it, but the shoe fits, so I’m wearing it. And it’s pinching.
I have been acting like a victim, like someone who doesn’t believe all the lovely things she writes about Spirit and the Universe having your back and all that jazz. I have become pathetic to myself. But it’s all good, as the saying goes, because this, my friends, is how I arranged to become very tired of myself. I became a big, fat baby.
All of which begs the question, “Now what?” Well, now it’s time to do something different. To get out of the rut, change the pattern, and nudge the heavy ball of inertia that is moi to get the energy moving. Somewhere. Anywhere.
Fortuitously and synchronistically and just as this epiphany of exhaustion hit me, I saw a trailer for a sweet little movie starring one of my favorite people, Pooh. (If corporations are people, Pooh and Piglet and the rest are definitely people. I have met them. All of them.) In one scene Pooh says to Christopher Robin, “I always get where I am going by walking away from where I have been.” Now that’s a piece of brilliance, right there. Once you become very tired of yourself, the next step is to walk away from where you have been. In other words, do something different. Preferably, an active sort of something that takes you in a positive direction, that sets you off toward where you want to go. I call it, “Going Oppo” after a Seinfeld episode in which George (a total loser) decides to do the exact opposite of every instinct he has and discovers that the opposite actually works.
The good thing about getting sick of yourself, of hitting a wall, is that it prevents further movement in that dead-end direction. It stops you. It also hurts, just to make the point very plain. The only real answer, once at the wall, is to move in another direction, away from where you have been. Just a step at a time is sufficient. In fact, a single small step is preferable to trying a major leap, because when you’re tired of yourself and smarting from smashing into the wall in front of God and everyone, it’s not really feasible to take a large leap; that’s a recipe for disappointment and disaster and more victimhood. No, better to take a small step in the right direction and call it good. And then another step the next day, and so on. Small victories. But concrete action. Good thoughts and prayer alone won’t do the trick, folks. You have to actually do shit. I’m learning this. To quote Mr. Whyte again:
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
you don’t want to take.
So even though I felt like caca on a stick yesterday with my stupid viruses doing a war dance in my body, I lay on the bed, phone held aloft, and called a person about a work opportunity. That was my small, definitive step that I didn’t want to take to move away from where I have been (complaining and worrying) toward where I want to be (connecting and doing). Then I wrote a prospective client. And today, well, today I finally sat down to write, something I have allowed to languish in my self-pity party. I also had an important, Big Talk with my spouse and wrote a friend whose struggles far outweigh my own. I took my small steps. This inertia ball is in motion. Watch out, world.
It’s a very good and necessary thing to arrange to get so tired of yourself that you simply must walk away, walk out into new territory and find your life again. It’s part of the deal, part of being human. Growth is what it’s all about, after all. It’s about movement, flow, and actively engaging with your own life. And let’s face it: Life’s way too short to stare at a wall, whining. Too short and too wonderful not to grab it and run.
If you’ve arranged to become really tired of yourself, huzzah! You’ve arrived. You’re on the precipice of something new and good. There’s a big bodacious world waiting for wonderful you. There is. All you need to do is stand up, turn around, maybe rub that little bump on your head, and if you need a gentle nudge to get started, give me a call. I’m running a special for Inertia Balls this month.