Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Keep Breathing

Today has felt really, really weird.  Maybe it's a consequence of only getting 2 hours of sleep on Sunday night and not really making up for it on the nights since, maybe it was the powerful storm that was coming tonight, maybe it is all of the social interactions I've had scheduled lately that have been out of my element, and the lack of alone time I need to balance it.  No matter what was behind it, I felt odd today in a way I haven't really felt before, or at least not in quite awhile.  I have some coping mechanisms for when I feel particularly "off" or like I'm suffocating or like I'm crawling out of my skin, but none of those seemed to fit today.  The song below kept running through my head, reminding me to keep breathing.  Sometimes that's the best thing to do.  Just keep breathing, attending to the breath in and out.  Let all of those outside things that I may or may not be able to do anything about fall away if just for a moment.  And connect with the cycle of in and out that keeps me alive, in this body, experiencing life in so many beautiful and painful and perplexing ways.  Sometimes the best thing to do when you feel like you're drowning in the intensity of the world is to just breathe and breathe and breathe until you feel like you have a handle on life again, even a teeny tiny one.  And so I wanted to share the song with you today, just in case you need the reminder too.  <3

"Keep Breathing" 
Ingrid Michaelson

The storm is coming but I don't mind
People are dying, I close my blinds

All that I know is I'm breathing now

I want to change the world
Instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me

But all that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

All that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing

All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

Monday, June 24, 2013

How Life Is Like a Video Game

The title of this post will probably either leave you nodding your head in agreement because you've thought it many times before, or wondering how I could make such an absurd statement.  Actually, there are many ways I feel life is like a video game, but today I'm just going to talk about one.

There are many different types of video games.  The type I've been thinking about lately is called a side scrolling video game.  If you've ever played Mario or Sonic, you've played a side scroller.  Typically, you start the level at a point on the left, and as you move right, towards the end of the level, the camera follows you with a speed that matches your movement.  You can be as slow or as fast as you want.  If there is no one in the area coming to attack you and you really have to pee, you can leave your little character standing there until you come back and everything will be hunky dory.  My kids have done this multiple, multiple times.  We'll come back from somewhere and realize the game has been on for HOURS and the character is waiting right there.  Maybe yawning or asleep, but none the worse for wear.

I SO wish life were like this at times.  I am fully aware that there are things I'm meant to do in this life, some of which really freak me out.  And my default setting when freaked out is to resist and procrastinate and refuse to do anything even semi related to that thing I'm supposed to do.  Maybe you're familiar with that setting?  I wish that I could sit down and refuse to do anything and still have the time and opportunity to do that thing.  Because I really do WANT to, I'm just not ready quite yet.  But life is not like that type of video game, because life doesn't sit and do nothing when I'm refusing.  I can't find a safe place to hide so I can avoid that next challenge for as long as I want, because that challenge may not be there by the time I'm done avoiding it. 

The type of game I'm thinking of I don't have a name for.  Timed side scroller?  I don't know.  Anyway, in this type, you start on the left and move to the right, but the camera moves at a constant speed.  Here are two examples:  (Neither of which are me playing. :) )

In some of these games, if you're too slow and you're touched by the edge of the screen on the left, you die.  In others if you hang back too far, the left edge of the screen shoves you along until you get smashed by something or stuck, and then you die.  On the bumblebee level above, if you get squished then you come out of the circular door on the left side of the screen right where you left off.  On Mario you start over. 

My kids often try to be the fastest on these levels and end up dying just as frequently as someone who is being too slow because when you're pushing the edge you can't see and prepare for what is coming next.  And pushing the edge doesn't actually make it go any faster, it all happens in its own right time.  It seems the best place to hang out is somewhere in the middle of the screen- you can speed up if you see something you want to get but won't be able to reach if you wait, or you can slow down if you're not correctly positioned to go through a certain obstacle.  Sometimes you decide that it's not possible to get all of the coins or bubbles and stay alive so you have to pass them by, or maybe you decide to sacrifice a life or two to get something you especially want.  But a few things are certain- you WILL get to the end when and only when the screen takes you there, and unless there is a cheat in there, you have to go through all of the challenges to get there.

This is the type of game life is feeling like right now.  Time continues to march on, to move me forward just as the camera does in the game.  When I try to stand still and prepare (or avoid) I just get shoved along.  And I can't do nothing and manage to float along and arrive at the end goal unscathed.  Often I get squished, or have to move around really fast in a panic to get around things or align myself correctly, or miss a really cool prize that I just wasn't able to get to in time because I wouldn't allow myself to try for it until it was almost past the window of opportunity.  There is a lot of pain and extra stress caused by letting the edge of the screen shove me forwards.  There are times when I venture out into the middle where there is more room to maneuver, but there is a security and solidity in that left side of the screen.  It helps hold me up in some ways.  It's solid when everything else is transient. Sometimes it feels like it takes all of my energy just to deal with the life that's coming at me and I just don't have the energy to move forward on my own.

But then there's that pain and stress caused by hanging back to far.  That's why I'm writing this at nearly 4 a.m., with my body aching and my eyes half closed.  I've been ignoring my need to let the creative energy out this past week.  I haven't even journaled much which is normally what keeps me at baseline.  I understood today that I either needed to write or paint, and although I got the table cleaned off so I could paint I didn't, and by the time I got the kids to sleep the pressure building up inside me was such that I knew it couldn't be resolved by just writing in my journal.  This is the extra energy, the extra push that helps me actually write here.  But not without loss of health status- I'm going to be really, really low tomorrow after staying up so late!  I know hanging out in the middle of the screen could spare me that loss by doing things when I have the flexibility to speed up or slow down, but that's a balance I just haven't figured out yet.  Or maybe I'm just too afraid to leave the left side of the screen and propel myself on my own?  That would require things like self care and allowing things through even though they're not at full pressure yet.  That would mean seeing the inherent value in them (to a level at least equal to if not higher than things like the dishes and cleaning the house) that would make it okay to use my precious daytime hours on them.  That would mean continuing to take nurturing steps forward even though part of me is shaking in my boots and pleading for me to stop.  It would mean keeping my eyes focused on what I really want to be doing, NEED to be doing so I can thrive, and keep moving that direction.  Those are my next steps, and I think I'm ready to take them.

I know that I'm nearly to the end of this level, the conclusion of which will be my new website.  I can feel the birthing pains.  I can feel the difficulty level increasing and the challenges with narrower possibilities for achievement that are requiring that I shed much of my baggage and increase my abilities.  But I can see that the left side of the screen is not going to escort me there this time.  Or at least not without extreme discomfort and an exorbitant amount of squishing.  Time for me to move forward of my own volition.

Game on.