I was looking forward to being in Bali after an intense 12 days in Singapore. That was always the original intention, to breathe, recover and heal. 30 days of doing nothing except recuperate sounds fun, doesn’t it?
It does, until I am left in the middle of nowhere with nothing except myself (with my laptop and kindle). For the first time in the long time, I had nothing to distract me. No people to meet, no work to rush, no expectations to meet, no next place to go, no plans to fulfill, no dreams to hold on to. I have never really felt how much I have used busyness to numb my existence until now. Without work, who am I?
There was a copy of Pema Chondron’s “The places that scare you” on my kindle, and right now, I am definitely at a place that is terrifying me. I am in an in-between state, the process of moving out from an old world I know, into a new world I don’t:
“Slowly we edge toward the open state, but let’s face it, we are moving toward a place of no handholds, no footholds, no mindholds. This may be called liberation, but for a long time it feels like insecurity.”
We hold on to fear because it is familiar, whereas hope is always an unknown. So many times in the past few months I have been swimming in self-doubt and anxiety, it would have been so easy for me to crawl back to what was familiar to me, even if it was slowing killing me.
But somehow, no matter how scared I am, how much anxiety I feel, I know that this is something I must do:
“We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk and endure failure, disappointment, and regret—people willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people, people willing to own their stories, live their values, and keep showing up.” – Brene Brown, Rising Strong
In this world where only successes are celebrated, and struggles are seen as signs of weakness, where we worship only a certain mould of heroes – aggressively, confident, wealthy, borderline-asshole – perhaps I want to demonstrate what is it like to be utterly human: loving, trusting, vulnerable, with a convention-defying identity.
It still scares the shit out of me, but the will to walk into something so unknown even with so much fear, it must mean that it is worth doing, isn’t it?
In between moments of anxiety-induced paralysis and fear, I find tiny bits of joy creeping back to me. Today I paused to marvel at the sound of a wind-chime, and in a separate moment, stood to smile at a flock of ducks sunbathing in a rice field.
This is when I know the tradeoff of feeling so much fear is worth it, because I would not exchange the capacity to see and feel the extraordinary in the ordinary, for anything else in the world.
To be present with myself and the world, that takes a lot of work for me, because I am used to an existence where I am always in pursuit of something, always running, always hiding, always trying to meet some expectations.
To have nothing ahead of me is terrifying, but yet it is precious, because for once, I am able to focus on what is with me.