(Photo courtesy of Nancy Walker)
Right around the cusp of the New Year, I was talking to someone who frequently gives me insight. At a time where people all around were making and talking about resolutions, we were talking about whether or not people really can make changes in their lives.
Her theory was this. The people who made significant changes usually ended up doing so in one of two ways.
The first group found that they had boulders in their path, but they needed to take the time to pick up each boulder, examine it for a bit, make peace with the reason it stood in their path, and then set it gently to the side. I nodded my head, I agreed. If Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living” he would find mine invaluable; it has been examined and re-examined by me for the duration to date.
And then she said there were the Boulder-Throwers. The people who had decided enough was enough and cast the boulders to the side in their determination to make change. From time to time, she said, they’d need to come back and take a look at the boulder they’d thrown out of their way with such reckless abandon, but if you want quick change, boulder throwing is not a bad way to go.
I think there is a real transition that comes when you reach a “certain” age. You know what you know, you know what you don’t know, and you’re unafraid to say so in either case. You care less what people think, something I’ve always admired about women of ‘that’ age. I thought I didn’t care, but in the end, I did and I do, but I’m finding I care a whole lot less.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve lobbed a few rocks of significant size out of my way. There were three little pieces of reading that resonated with just the right timing and helped me develop my pitching arm, I think:
There are things in my life that are Important that have been pushed out of my daily “to do list” by things that were Urgent but not so Important. Important things like:
- Spending more time with my horses
- Focusing on my own health and fitness
- Ensuring my consulting clients were satisfied with our work
- Getting certain non-urgent things organized because the very lack thereof caused me just the tiniest bit of anxiety (or more) every time I thought of them or glanced their way.
And then I read this less than politically correct blog:
Now, I am all about irreverent. I’ve been a fan of Howard Stern for years (this is always the litmus test to me for people, especially women, who can take a joke) but not only was this blog incredibly funny and wildly full of cursing, it was profoundly true.
I was finding myself, in a lot of areas of my life, running out of Fucks to give.
And finding myself more and more willing to say so.
Then there was this gem:
So there you have it folks. A perfect storm of information placed in my path with the exquisite timing of my also being ready to hear it. I’m a firm believer that when the student is ready, the teacher (or the right blog) will appear.
One, I needed to get boulders out of my path, catapulted or sent gently aside after rumination, they needed to go. Two, I needed to spend a little contemplation on what was Important, not to other people, but to me. Three, I’d reached a point in time where the Urgent things, that were truly Not Important, had vastly reduced the fucks I had in me, inherently, to give. And last but not least, I needed to start saying “no.” More often than I was saying “yes.”
To the right things.
Suddenly my eyes were opened and I realized that I had, all along, my own litmus test for things.
It was the knot in my stomach.
The knots that come from:
- Trying to be functional in an organization that is anything but …
- Attempting to inspire action from those who prefer to fight and pontificate from a keyboard when the obvious fixes require everything but …
- Being in the middle of fights and lack of respect and wars that cannot be won and wishing to fix, fix, fix that which cannot be fixed …
- Living in a world where I was never quite caught up, pushed to deadlines, apologizing for being late, having forgotten something Important or even just stupidly Urgent …
- Being sedentary and at the end of the day wishing I had not been …
There were things in my life, the Important things, the things about which I give a Fuck and so do the other Important people in my life (enough that they were willing to move boulders), things that I want to continue to say “yes” to and find more time to do.
Every single one of them un-knots things, leaves me breathing more deeply and softly, in that way that says ‘this was time well spent’ and ‘this was effort well worth expending.’ Or just plain ‘this was the right thing to do.’ (Or as my husband puts it so simply — “we can NOT ride on any day!” And the satisfaction that I feel after we do, even though it was kind of cold, kind of rainy, sort of muddy … )
- Time spent, in any way, shape or form, with my horses — mucking, feeding, rasping feet (this just leaves me with a knot in my hamstrings), riding, grooming, touching, talking, and my favorite, just watching them because they are the most fascinating and honest creatures on the planet in my eyes.
- Every moment I can spend with my tribe — my dearest and closest friends (in whose presence I can feel the anxiety drain from my deepest parts), the various critters who share our home and farm, my family (who is warped and smarmy and clearly genetically connected to me), and my endurance family, with whom I feel the oddest symbiosis (most of them anyway) connected as we are to the strangest of passions.
- Yoga and cardio and lifting weights. No, sure, not every moment DURING the workout, but the way I feel afterward, a little stronger in a way that only comes by touching the edge of failure of reach, or strength, or feeling your heart pounding and reaching to the very bottom of your lungs, but coming back to normal, knowing you’ve extended that reach, that strength, that bottom.
- Working with clients or students or prospective endurance riders who are engaged and seeking to learn, and learning as much from them as they get from me since I am not afraid to say “tell me more, this is outside of my wheelhouse.” That simply means I can soak up more and more and more and share it in the future. There is such rhythmic joy in learning and teaching. Giving, taking. [Nancy’s photo makes me giggle because it is so me, hands just a-flyin’ and talking about Setting Goals. Isn’t that what this is all about?]
- Writing. When I have something to say that I think might resonate somewhere with someone like-minded. Or contemplating on writing while I am mucking and puttering around the barn. One of the best un-knotters ever.
- Planning for 100s. Working out every detail, scheming all of the things that need to be addressed and resolved and optimized, taking joy in the journey to the destination. Given more excuses to watch and touch and be around horses. Lying awake at night, plotting and imagining that time alone at night in the last bit of the ride, all of the work coming to fruition for those last miles in the darkness, where all is right in the world with me and my horse. An unknotting that last for weeks, months, years … just by re-remembering.
- Taking good care of my husband, because he takes such amazing care of me and the things and creatures he knows I care so much about. He keeps me warm, he keeps life in order when I am on the road, he makes sure that the whole passel of creatures in our midst get every bizarre medication at the appropriate time and every need met. And besides, he can lift heavy things and reach items high on shelves. When he is happy and he is content, I am both.
So if you see less of me on Facebook, or find I’ve backed away from things in my life that have left me knotted, I’m not really that far away.
I’m just back on the path I think I’ve always needed to be on, having carefully rearranged or scattered boulders out of my way, giving a very serious Fuck about the things most Important to me.