My feet hit the pavement in a shaky rhythm, a sinking pit of anxiety knotting my stomach and making me breathe heavier and faster than necessary. Quick inhales followed by deep, slow breaths, erratic heart beats mirror the asynchronous and accidental scraping of rubber on asphalt. Haven’t I been here before? Running away from the panic, from the mess in my head and the loss of control? Seven year old emotions resurface as I pick up my pace and turn up the music, trying to outrun the past, to escape this cycle of uncertainty and transformation.
This week each morning has brought a new and deeper wave of dread as I squeeze my eyes tightly against the light of a new day, turning over to avoid the clock and the good intentions I had of getting up early. Confusion, fear, and anxiety gurgle and brew in my belly as I pour coffee grounds into the pot, too sleepy to see through the gloom.
Seven years ago I was facing a similar transition, an eerily parallel period of struggle and growth and re-formation of all I thought I knew to be true. All of the ingredients are the same: recent heartbreak, reverse culture shock, unemployment, and a stubborn insistence to cling to thought patterns I’ve outgrown and no longer need. The names and places are different, but the feelings are exactly the same. Panic, desperation, and more panic.
Sometimes I feel like I’m living the same patterns of development over and over, like rings on a tree, orbiting around the same character flaws and doubts, circling past disappointments and pain with each cycle of rebirth. Each transition seems hauntingly similar, eerily familiar and tireless. What am I missing? Why does this keep happening, keep repeating itself?
If there’s anything I’ve learned from sheer repetition, it’s that a breakthrough is on the way. The moment I’ve reached the end of my resources, when all of my ideas and plans have failed, the moment I can’t push through the resistance any longer, the moment my stubbornness reaches its limit, when all the steam of struggle has evaporated, when I’m finally forced to let go, that’s when the magic happens. Every single time. So why am I so quick to forget, why do I willfully bulldoze divine obstacles and refuse to stop fighting my true desires?
“What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.” Friedrich Nietzsche
Maybe I intuitively seek similar patterns of transition because on some deeper level, they work. If only I allow the transition to become transformation. If only I seek guidance, pursue open vulnerability, and let go of the struggle (a lesson I’m obviously still learning). If only I trust the Universe/Spirit/God/Love to lead me.
Recently, I had help breaking through my current crisis of chrysalis. As I was bemoaning the block in progress, the exhaustion and stress evident on my face, my sister asked me a simple question, “What are you really hearing from the Universe?” After stripping away the usual excuses of confusion, doubt, and fear, I realized I had been avoiding the deep seated answer in my heart, the impractical, impossible, quiet reassurance I was afraid to let surface. “Stop looking. Start writing.” Her smile confirmed she had known this, too, and was patiently waiting for me to peer through the layers to see my true self revealed.
I’ll admit this is not the answer I want, or the one I feel ready to accept. Yet, much like previous times when there have been obstacles carefully placed in my path for a purpose, I feel the Universe directing me to (for the millionth time), let go of my own expectations. It’s time to embrace a new season, to give breath and life to the creative force moving within me, eagerly waiting to take flight.
Buckner, MO 2010