I’ve been talking about this confession in some shape or form for a while. My girlfriends (as well as random women standing in line at WalMart) and I talk about it all the time. We’re tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed. But today I realized,
20. I’m actually drowning.
I realized it through an AWFUL situation. Immediately you think something I missed, forgot, failed at but it’s not any of that. I’ll try to keep it brief but give you the whole picture.
So this morning I’m in the backyard with the dog and a baby bunny runs from under the deck. Sophie Joe chases it as usual but instead of darting under the fence and getting away. This bunny jumped in the pool. I totally FREAK out. I have to save the bunny. The bunny is swimming for dear life. I get the dog inside. Call for Sydney to help me and I start trying to rescue the bunny. A wet broom, swimming pool pole and a rigged ramp later, I cannot get the bunny out. It’s getting tired, resting between strokes. I’m begging it to hold on and keep trying. Telling it, ‘you can do it’. It’s struggling now. I swear we’re close to saving it and then it stops moving. It’s DEAD.
I was trying to hold it together, but I started crying. I thought to myself, I’m losing my mind. The girls don’t know WHAT to do. Sydney reassures me bunnies die all the time – we do have an overinflated bunny population running around our house. But I just felt so bad for that bunny.
And then I realized, I AM THE BUNNY.
It’s almost like I’ve woken up in my life and I’m wondering…how did I get here? Surrounded by water. This place where the to do list never ends and the pressure to perform is crushing me. Where in all aspects of my life I feel like I’m treading water or falling behind. And this is not a time where I just need encouragement, a pat on the back or someone telling me you can do it, this is REALITY. I have too much on my plate. I have too much responsibility and too many people or projects depending on me. I have too many jobs to do and roles to play.
I have gotten here and I’m swimming as hard as I can but I know I’m drowning and it’s just a matter of time before I’m dead.
There were times last year I actually thought I was going to die. I still live with the fear that the cancer is just dormant right now but it will come back and kill me. But if it doesn’t, anything could. Now, 5 years from now, 10. It’s going to happen, but I feel like the race against the clock has started. I don’t want to spend these years struggling just to survive.
But what am I doing about it? What CAN I do about it? I see people ditching their McMansions and building tiny houses, leaving their jobs and pursuing their passions. I have thoughts, ideas, dreams but something still holds me back. It could be all that responsibility I have, but my faith in God and myself should reassure me that it will all be taken care of. For some reason I’m still SCARED, and in many ways, I’m sort of comfortable in this crazy place. The water is warm now that I’ve gotten used to it.
But I’m still drowning and I know it. Drowning is different than being exhausted or overwhelmed cause there are only TWO possible outcomes. You get out of the water or die.
I just need to jump out of the water. One good leap and that bunny would have been out of the water -and alive. I need to JUMP.
I have the tools to get out and to succeed when I’m there. They’ve been developed, improved and sharpened for the last 43 years. Shouldn’t I live the next 43 years on the shore, really living and not just struggling until I die?
I want to know my IKIGAI (eek-y-guy) – “the reason for which I wake up in the morning.” or, “sense of purpose”. This is an important concept in the Okinawa lifestyle and was identified as one of the principles that helps make this region a blue zone. If you haven’t heard of this you have to watch Dan Buettner’s TedTalk on it. But he’s identified 9 factors present in regions where people for generations live longer than anywhere else. Knowing and living your purpose was one of those factors. Not only did they live longer, but they lived more fulfilling and rewarding lives. I know my PURPOSE is not just to tread water until I drown. I know it’s bigger than that.
I don’t want NOT knowing to hold me back anymore. I need to bet on me and my ability to find my purpose and make a way. It’s time to jump. If I don’t do it now, I’m afraid I’ll forget the impact this crazy cancer time has had on me. I’ll get comfortable in my CRAZY again and settle in the struggle. I don’t want to settle.