Monday, April 28, 2014

Don't Go Back To Sleep...

"Once you know, there's no un-knowing." That was me, being super deep and philosophical talking to my business partner shortly after my heart surgery last year. When you go through something major like that, unless you're a complete arse reveling in your own ignorance and self-destruction, you come to realize some shit. For me, it was that my life - my health, my happiness, my peace of mind - were more important than anything. More important than money. More important than pleasing others. More important than "succeeding" and having a good answer to that unavoidable question, "so, what do you do?" 

And it wasn't literally life or death. Sure, the doctor said stress (and intense cardio - woo hoo!!) are bad for my heart, but that's like them telling an obese person not to eat sugar. That's like telling an addict to stop smoking, shooting, snorting, or ingesting their drug of choice. The advice is received and agreed with, but not necessarily heeded. 

Fortunately, I was ready for the change. I feel like my heart surgery was equivalent to a DUI for someone who has a drinking "problem" but who hasn't quite crossed over the edge into alcoholism. That moment where your head hits the steering wheel and life flashes before you're eyes and you're like OH MY GOD (literally, oh my GOD) - I will NEVER put myself in this position again. A come-to-Jesus (or Krishna or Buddha or Allah) rock-bottom moment. I guess it proves that while I had a stress and over-commitment "problem" it was not a Lindsay Lohan level one. One DUI is enough for me, thank you very much. 

So BOOM, I had this big dramatic realization. And I "knew" or at least had a momentary understanding of what felt like the real meaning of life. That was about 10 months ago. People are often surprised, or impressed, or inspired by the changes I've made in my life since then. Others are cynical and condescending, though generally they don't say anything to my face. But in light of recent advances (aka just living and being and thinking and feeling) I have to amend that thing I said at the onset...ya know,  "once you know, there's no unknowing," ...blah blah blah. 

At times, the biggest cynic- the least knowing one- is inside my head. Have we all felt that way? Have we all had those oh-dear-Lord-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life moments? The moments when you want to throw up your hands and say "what is it all for?". The moments when you question every decision you've ever made going all the way back to 6th grade when you decided to study French (IDIOT!) instead of something more useful like Spanish and decided Computer Science classes were just for nerds or boys or both! Where you look at people whose lives seem absolutely boring and miserable but maybe a bit more lucrative, or safe, or socially-acceptable and want to trade places with them? 

I've had 'em. They've come in waves. Two days of doubt, two weeks off. Two days of panic. Three weeks off. One day of misery, complacency, and get the picture. In other words, once you know you may always know on some level, but there will be murky moments of relapse and forgetting. You'll just have one or two beers and hop behind the wheel...But you only make it to the next corner and turn right back around. Something inside you speaks up. No, no, NO! I will not go down this road again. The feeling doesn't go away - at first. But you sit with it. And hug your dog with it. And seek comfort from your husband with it. And meditate with it. And sleep on it. Until the feeling of unknowing starts to be covered up by those deeper, wiser feelings and thought patterns. 

And then one day in yoga class the teacher reads a Rumi poem that speaks directly to that part of you that "knows" and reminds you why you are where you are, doing what you're doing (or not doing). It reminds you of the past year, or maybe of your entire life. The moments of knowing (BLISS!) followed by the moments of unknowing (fear, panic, doubt, anxiety!). You're one of those people Rumi describes who are, "going back and forth...where the two worlds touch," and maybe all of us are. What I know for sure (as my girl Oprah would say) is that I want to stay on the side of knowing. I want the periods of unknowing to become lesser and shorter and fewer and further between. I want to know that when the bad times come, they aren't coming to stay.

 I want to stay awake. 

“The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep!
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth 
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don't go back to sleep!”

― Rumi