When I was little, I spent lots of time in the back seat of my mom’s Caddy. She’d be playing the soundtrack from “Grease” or “Chorus Line” (I think we were still on 8-tracks) and I would inevitably have my nose buried in a book, for the most part oblivious to the fact that many of my days seemed to consist of going (or being taken) from errand to errand.
Also inevitably, I’d end up carsick, sometimes sooner rather than later, other times not for hours, but eventually. And also inevitably, my mom would give me the same Advice for Carsick Kids:
“Keep your eyes focused on the horizon. Don’t look at anything along the sides, ignore whatever we are passing or is passing us. Just stare directly at the fixed point ahead and you will feel better.”
Perhaps this particular advice sticks with me because my mom wasn’t what I would call “motherly,” and she didn’t exactly dispense one-liners and Heloise-like helpful hints with any regularity. Or maybe I remember it because it actually does work to alleviate that gross carsick feeling. (Probably both.)
And, really, right now, it makes a whole lot of sense for me in the bigger picture.
My life has a katrillion moving parts. So does yours, I am sure. I’m busy. I’m scattered. I’m in motion. I’m on all sorts of quests with all sorts of responsibilities. I’m trying to be the best writer, mom, girlfriend, friend, sister, breadwinner, neighbor and even stranger I can be.
It’s a tall freakin’ order. I expect lots from myself. I go easy on myself only rarely, and even them I am not very good at it.
And, meanwhile, as I am on a quest to do and be all of that, I must tell you that I am way, way distracted.
Distracted by this and that, nothing and everything.
Sometimes by the usual distractions – twitter, Facebook, texts, friends, drama people who try to involve me, my apparent (non-physical) resemblance to Dr. Phil, kid stuff, Mom stuff, house stuff, life stuff.
It’s a full plate. Like yours, I am sure. And don’t get me wrong – there is always enough time in the day to do all I need and want to do. But, the truth is, I just don’t manage my time that well. I am not uber-focused. I often tell people that me at 60 or 70% is like most others at 100% (not bragging, just a fact). For many people, 60 or 70 would be plenty.
For me, 60 or 70 is unacceptable. Yet it has become my norm.
They take my eye off the prize, off that fixed point on the horizon. Off the thing I supposedly need to look at in order for everything to work out and end up as it should.
Yet…the “Prize Theory” is flawed. It assumes that the end-point is clear and defined. That it is unchangeable and trumps all else.
But what if it isn’t clear?
What if it doesn’t stand as a beacon of all that is stable and steady and knowable?
What if you kind-of-sort-of know your horizon, but you don’t keep your eye on it to the exclusion of all else because – let’s face it – something better or “more right” could come along?
But what if you don’t know what the freakin prize is? Or you want many prizes? Or the prize is known, but the road to it completely unclear. I want to do a million things, and nothing at all. So many ideas, but sometimes all I want to do is take a nap.
What if you were so unfocused that you couldn’t even get focused, you were so unclear that you couldn’t even get clear?
In other words, you are/were/may very well be: All. Over. The. Fucking. Place.
You resist. You question. You waver. You delay. You avoid. And all the while, you make sure that you look and feel busy, busy, busy. (And maybe even get good at pretending that your sights are squarely set on that prize-ish horizon.)
Truth is, there are many prizes. And depending on the nature of the fixed object in front of us – how much do we enjoy it, love it, want it, crave it – -the objects along the way will appear to us in varying levels of attractiveness, coolness, want-to-touch-them-ness and need-to-stop-now –ness.
When I am at 60 or 70, I am busy, busy, busy. But busy is a temporary high with little actual payoff. And what’s more, 60 or 70 piss me off. I’m looking for 100.
And what I am learning is that sometimes, to get to 100, we have to go back to 10 or 20 or, yes, gasp!, even ZERO.
So as I drove across the state of Florida last week and used my computer (I wasn’t the driver…don’t worry), I began to get carsick.
Immediately, I remembered my mom’s advice and went straight to the horizon.
Because, after all, the horizon is a sure thing.
The horizon has no gray area.
The horizon is the antithesis to all of the non-horizon stuff along the way.
And what I thought about is this: Much of my life before had been about the horizon. The safety and stability seemed more important than the alternatives: Good girl, right schools, right jobs, nice house, good car, right husband…check, check, check, check, check, check.
But that is all on paper. It isn’t always written on my soul. And if it isn’t written on your soul, well then, eventually it won’t feel much like living.
Distractions aren’t always terrible. There can be magic in distractions. You know, the whole “road-less-taken-that-has-made-all-the-difference” approach. Much of the wonder, the possibilities, the lessons and even the mistakes that make the journey worthwhile can be found in the distractions.
I’ve put in lots of time looking for my own horizon. I blamed myself when it never felt like enough or like the right fit for me. I felt I was way off base when I let the stuff on the side distract and derail. Maybe my distractions – and I am NOT making excuses for not doing what I need and want to get done – are a good thing. Maybe they are not the problem.
For this next part of the journey, I am working on getting clearer about what I want. I don’t always know what it will look like. I am also working on being more open to the side stuff, to the unknown and yet-untold possibilities…the stuff that wasn’t necessarily on the map or part of the plan.
The carsickness, then, is perhaps not due to the side stuff or the distractions, but to the utter uninvitingness (I don’t think that is a word) of the thing ahead that is not, at the end of the day, meant to be a one-size-fits-all kind of thing – and that, for sure, does not always fit me.
So here is where I am right now: I am on the road. Sometimes I have a driver, sometimes I am driving. The car is full some days, empty but for me other days. I speed, I slow down, I bumble over bumps and try to avoid blown-out tires or glass on the road. Sometimes I am actually on foot. Sometimes I consider biking. Other times, I just sit right down, in the middle or maybe on the side, and tell anyone who will listen that I can’t go another inch in that moment. Other times, it is pedal to the metal, rev-her-up-and-let-her-fly.
And meanwhile, sometimes frustratingly, sometimes maddeningly, always beautifully, my life – the true essence of my life, the people, the love, the passion, the soul – is all along the way, on the sides, all over. It’s disorganized, not in the lines, messy, unpredictable, all at once, often without rhyme or reason and, depending on the day and time, anywhere from a 0 to a 100.
Sometimes monotonous, sometimes bumpy, sometimes dramatic, usually scenic and always, always mine. All I can do, ultimately, is just allow — carsickness and all.
All I can do, ultimately, is Enjoy. The. Ride.