struggle

Life does not have to be a struggle to be worthwhile. I have been repeating this phrase to myself for the last two weeks. If you would have asked me six months ago if this statement were true, I would have enthusiastically said, “absolutely!” and then I would have run off to go accomplish the hundreds of things on my to-do list that day. In the same conversation, I would have told you how little sleep I got and I would have done so with some pride. I would have expected you to impressed by how thin I was stretching myself. Like a rubber band destined to break, I have been snapped awake.

A wise woman once told me to take some time to be blissfully lazy before diving into my next project. That phrase, blissfully lazy, has been ringing in my ears ever since. I have been wrestling with it. What does it mean to be blissfully lazy? How does that look in my life?  Am I being blissfully lazy right now? Is this right? Is this a thing I can schedule and get some outside approval for?

I love having projects. I love learning and growing and figuring things out. I like running around and coordinating with dozens of people to get a project done and accomplish a goal. However, after six weeks of giving every single thought and every free minute to something outside of myself, I have found my boundary. It’s been suggested to me that I have been running. (Not totally sure what I’ve been running from (possibly depression). I’ll let you know when it catches up to me.)

I’ve had a co-dependent relationship with my work. At different points in the last four years, that work has changed, but my dedication to it has remained the same. By “dedication,” I really mean unhealthy obsession.

I ran the 400 meter race in high school, and I am my father’s daughter, so  I can’t help but make a sports metaphor. There’s a part during that race, around the 200 meter mark, where you have to take everything you have given, and give it again. More. Even more. During the first 200 meters, you were giving it your all. Now you have to give it more than you have. More than you had at the beginning of the race. With every step, you have to give even more.

That was always my favorite part of the race. Coaches on the sidelines were screaming and clapping. While intensely focused on my stride and the finish line, I was also totally free. I was in so much pain, but I couldn’t feel it.

Living life that way is exhilarating and anxiety inducing in that way that’s sort of exciting. I have a goal, I can see it, it is clear. I will give everything I have to accomplish that goal. When that goal is to save the world, or save an addict, or save a student, or to never get depressed again, I will never reach the finish line. And my lungs will always hurt, and I will never really be in touch with anything outside of the task at hand.

This is not the way I want to live my life. My new project is slowing down. I am going to do that by making time for the things that force me to slow down. Yoga, meetings, eating dinner at the dinner table, meditation, reading, therapy, tea (I need to drink less coffee but I’m not making any promises) with friends. I think this is my blissfully lazy.

My goal is the same. I love dedicating my life to things bigger than myself. Reaching the goal is not point. The connections with others, the quiet moments in the madness, working with people who are just as dedicated as I am — that is where the real meaning comes in. Life does not have to be a struggle to be worthwhile.

One thought on “struggle

  1. Right now I am struggling with watching my 26 year old son struggle with depression and addiction. I totally do not know what to say or do. I am sick and tired of being helpless and scared and unsure about everything because right now he is all I can think about. I believe the keys to happiness or contentment or maybe just survival are connections and balance. Thanks for your wisdom ana bravery and ,most of all, beautiful way with words.

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