#reverb10, chirping crickets, cultural mythology, Declaration of Future Life Plans, fairy-tales, impatience, India, letting go, Nepal, possibility, Thailand, tumbleweeds, yoga teaching
Okay so here we are in part 2 and actually, there isn’t any more betrayal as such to speak of – but for the sake of consistency, the heading stays, okay? The neck is on the improve although not as swiftly as I’d like. So much impatience, one of my finer qualities!
Interestingly, this post works in well with the #reverb10 writing prompt for 5th December (and in Australia it is the evening of the 5th already):
Let go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Ha! Actually, one of the overall themes of this blog could be “letting go”, couldn’t it? But here with my second brimming bagful of possibility, I’m getting a little more specific with “letting go” on a bit of an epic scale.
So, without further ado (and this is a long-ish one)…
Background to brimming bagful #2
I’ve had this one on the simmer for a while now and I’ve even shared these thoughts with a friend or two. But you’re still getting this pretty early on in my Public Declaration of Future Life Plans. I shall attempt not to ramble.
It’s all connected to thoughts I was having a few thousand ago, right before I read Nadine’s post – which is kinda related!
And here it is… gosh.
I moved back to Melbourne six years ago and in some ways it was the making of me. In others, it was a complete disaster albeit one with a happy ending. Okay, granted: not the sort of happy ending you find in the average Hollywood rom-com. But happy ending all the same.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might wonder how can I say I’ve been given a “happy ending” and mean it? Given I’m almost thirty-nine, I’m single and childless, pretty much broke, my career a minor disaster, my social life remarkable for the tumbleweeds and chirping crickets (except for fucking December). So how can I mean that? Really?
But I do, unreservedly so. Sure, if there was some other way I could’ve gotten to where I am now, I’d have taken it in a heartbeat. But that’s not what happened.
And what I mean by “where I am now” is as follows… I’m pretty sure that for the longest time I lived in some kind of romantic fantasy version of what I imagined life was like. Unintentionally, I wasn’t honest with myself about who I am – just not how I was raised I’m afraid. The kicker is that if I had been, then I probably never would’ve moved back to Melbourne in the first place.
But that’s not the path I took, and what this last five years has given me is an absolutely rock solid case of Waking-The-Fuck-Up – which is super-rich in life nutrient type of information, and needs unpacking in every facet of one’s collective interpretations of life. Each and every one.
For many years now I’ve had this theory about the expectations of society as our modern-day “cultural myths and fairy-tales”. There’s a whole bunch of unspoken and yet clearly sign-posted directions life is “meant” to take in this white western world of ours. And every part of it marinates in those stories. Absolutely everything from the clothes we buy down to what we’re having for dinner or watching on TV.
According to our cultural mythology, life is meant to look like this: go to school, get educated, fall in love a few times, money is important, get married/a house/children and save a little nest egg for your retirement. Enjoy life, consume, consume, be a good person, get old and chill out til it’s time to depart. The End.
These stories are the foundations of our world and if you don’t tick most of the boxes while ambling along trying to work your shit out, then people look at you sideways. They wanna know what’s wrong with you. In fact, from the time we were adorable little munchkins we were told that people who don’t want these things, who aren’t doing what everyone else is doing in these very (so-called) fundamental ways… well, there’s something wrong with them.
Turns out of course, that I’m one of them. Except guess what? As far as I can tell, there isn’t actually anything wrong with me. Not that there’s anything wrong with anyone else, either.
It’s just that for every generalised version of life, every expectation defined by how “most people” do it, there’s another way of thinking, existing, being and doing.
Really, I’ve given myself hell over the years for failing to have my life resemble at least one of our cultural fairy tales. Instead I was a no-good run-away, a high school drop out, a teenage stripper, an abortee and all before I’d even turned 21. Then, thinking there was nothing else to do, I left my family behind to live in another state where no-one knew me. For a do-over of sorts, I guess.
There, I reinvented myself a little and I even almost had that fantasy fairy-tale marriage. Somehow, I sorta landed on my feet when that didn’t work out: found a steady job, got some qualifications under my belt, indulged in my passion for dance as a semi-professional belly-dancer and found my spiritual teacher. I danced. I skied. I traveled. I started my love affair with yoga.
Still, I was chasing a fairy-tale, the one that’s about meeting the “man of my dreams”. Actually I was quite convinced that I’d be attending my 30th birthday party with him (cue the music), this amazing guy who was perfect for me and I for him. He’d look lovingly at me and… it never happened.
I’ve been freaked out half my life about that: not having what I saw others attaining, old friends and new. Even my own sister. Where was MY perfect life with a husband, children, a house and a few cats?
And then… disaster struck. Not only did I not have my perfect life, I didn’t even have a okay one. Not at all.
In terms of normal life, everything stopped. However, cultural mythology runs deep and even though I didn’t want men anywhere near me, I still craved a life partner. Someone who’d love me no matter what and if I’m deadly honest, at that point what I wanted was someone to rescue me from the total mess my life had become.
Sometimes though, you don’t learn the lessons you need most until you’ve been working your ass off for the longest time. Recovery from anything is always a process and 2010 has felt very much like the year in which I’ve finally begun to see myself clearly.
Brimming bagful #2
When do our thoughts coalesce into something that we recognise and own? When do we own up to ourselves about Important Things? What’s the tipping point for that lightbulb moment exactly?
I’m not sure. But in the last few months I’ve started asking myself things like this…
- What if my life just isn’t meant to include meeting the love of my life? I know some amazing older women who’ve never found that “right guy” and instead of being single and bitter, or settling for “good enough”, they channel their energy into other projects.
- What if I’m not meant to be living in this kind of society? The happiest I’ve ever felt in my life has been when I wasn’t surrounded by western convenience. What if I’m meant to be living somewhere in Asia teaching yoga to impoverished women and children?
- What if money and financial security isn’t my path either? While everyone else is busy acquiring property and saving money, I don’t ever seem to be able to pay off my debts. And not because I don’t try! So what if my ideas about what I should be aiming for are just wrong, and this is one of the reasons I haven’t been able to sort out my financial situation?
- What if… my life was meant to be something else? Somewhere else? I moved back to Melbourne out of a sense of family duty and that really hasn’t worked out… what if I admitted that my so-called plans for living in the western world are really more about trying to survive in an environment I don’t feel comfortable in?
- What if I’m just not meant to have kids? As much as that makes me sad, there’s plenty of children in this world to love and take care of. And perhaps that’s part of what I’m meant to be doing with my life anyway?
- How would I even know what else my life could be if I just keep on doing what I’ve been doing?
Good point, that last one!
For the longest time I’ve felt as though I’ve been trying to reconcile what I want and need to be doing with the party line on what I SHOULD be doing. It’d be so nice wouldn’t it, if I could neatly combine the two?
But what if it’s just not meant to be like that for me? Perhaps you don’t believe in any kind of fate, but I do. I feel it in my bones and my heart and if there’s no element whatsoever of fate in any of this thing we call life, I’d be ridiculously surprised.
So, what I’ve been letting go of this year is the remnants of cultural mythology that paints an outline of the life we’re supposed to grow into (or be considered a little odd if not). And I’ve been embracing my oddness, my otherness… because I feel like that’s the best way for me to be of service.
Letting go of all of these ideas frees up a crazy amount of energy and it’s given me a whole bunch of new things to think about. I mean, if living here in a major metropolitan city like Melbourne isn’t working for me, what will? What does work already?
And here’s what I know: yoga works for me. Teaching yoga is some kind of crazy blissful high. Teaching yoga makes me giggle like my baby nieces, exuberantly delighting in the special things that transpire in my classes.
Ah… so taking that a step further, I want more. More knowledge and experience. More study.
Which brings me to the possibilities. I have a plan you see, and I’m hoping the universe is listening in and will just get on board here! Can we have a little alignment of the stars behind my plan? Ooooh, that’d be awesome, thanks ever so much!
And this is it:
I figure if I work my ass off, I can finally pay off my debts in 2011 (the sad stories of my misadventures with money might just be another post some time!). Then, I figure I’ll need another 6-12 months to accumulate a bunch of cash, but not for doing anything “sensible” like saving to buy a house!
Nope, my theory is that I need to go travelling and studying for a while. What? Just because I’m getting close to 40 I should be settling down and “thinking of the future” (as my father likes to say)?
Ummm, I decline. I decline the fear mongering, and the “be like us and validate our life choices” inference of suggestions that anything else is crazy.
Instead, I wanna hit up India, Nepal, Cambodia and Thailand. Hang out with my Guru for a while. Study with other teachers. Immerse myself fully in everything yoga. Discover more people like me, those who don’t fit neatly into the recommended western life-style.
And then, who knows? I’d like to just teach yoga really, which probably means living on much less money than I currently earn. Thing is, the only reason I need to earn more money is to pay off my debts. I don’t give a stuff about owning “things” as such: there’s nary a flat screen TV at my place and I can’t tell you how badly I probably need new clothes (that I can never be bothered going to buy!).
Bottom line is I could care less about owning stuff. And maybe when I’m 80 I’ll have a different perspective and want to kick my nearly 39 year old ass for being so irresponsible. But right now, I’m gonna have to go with what feels right.
Forget New Year’s resolutions. This is my Grand-Bold-Stupid-Reckless-Awesome-Totally-Kicking-Life-Plan for the next few years. It makes me feel good. And alive and happy.
So… back to that idea of a happy ending. When’s anything really “the end”, anyway? But say I’d never taken that trip to hell and back? Say I’d married the guy I was engaged to in my 20’s, had kids and settled in Sydney. Would I still have been able to ask myself these same questions? Would I have even known what questions to ask?
And as hard as it’s been, I feel that I’m better off like this. Life in disarray and really learning to see what’s important for my own happiness…
Y is for Yogini said:
I am loving everything about your “Grand-Bold-Stupid-Reckless-Awesome-Totally-Kicking-Life-Plan.” Pure awesomeness.
I should’ve really added the word “bodacious” in there, shouldn’t I? I’m loving it too and hoping I can pull it off!
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It doesn’t work out so well for those taking the “conventional path”, either. You would be surprised how many overeducated people are underemployed, just hanging on, have family obligations (but no husband or progeny) and can’t look forward to getting away, because we are trapped. We are the working poor, suffocated by high health insurance costs here in the United States and declining expectations. Just that we never decided to try falling down that rabbit hole …
But that’s kind of my point. Mostly, we’re just working to try and hang on instead of finding another way. Does it always have to be so hard? I think if we stick with the rules we’re given, it can’t get any easier. I don’t know if what I’m planning is an escape or just moving into a way of living that’s more natural for me. I don’t have any issues with anyone choosing any kind of life that’s different from me either. Its just that I now know what I need to do in order to be happy and I’m going to do my best to work towards that. Falling down the rabbit hole? Nope, been there and done that already. This is more living life on the up and up!
I’m coming here from the reverb challenge. Thank you so much for sharing your words with the internet… I’m definitely coming back to let all of this wholeness soak in.
Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts, too. I’m heading over to your blog now 🙂
What an exciting plan!
I too have spent absurd amounts of time trying to be “normal”, trying to “fit in”. And I too am starting to understand that that will never happen, thank God! Because it’s by being completely myself, doing things my way, that I thrive and am happy and can therefore give and serve.
So forget guilt. Forget “should”s. It is not only our right to follow our desires and do what makes us happy, it is also our duty. As Byron Katie so brilliantly says, “Your job is to be you.”
I think most of us do this, really. This spending “absurd amounts of time trying to be “normal”, trying to “fit in”. I suspect its because what passes for our modern day society is not really a natural life for many people. Certainly not with all the pressure to consume and hoard money and possessions and so on. It’s exhausting! I wish all children were taught what “Your job is to be you” really means as part of their school curriculum. I think we’d have a much happier society if we did! Lucky are those that never had to struggle with such things, eh? xo
Awesome post 🙂 I love this: How would I even know what else my life could be if I just keep on doing what I’ve been doing?
@Kerry – thanks! And thanks for a wonderful kinesiology session last night 🙂
I’ve been lurking here for a while, reading your posts, but never commenting before. I just wanted to say that I understand what you’re saying – I also believe that there are too many ‘shoulds’ or too many people getting hung up trying to ‘fit into’ the conventional ways of living. I’m for one is one of those people who have known for years that I want to live a different life than the conventional one, but I just don’t know how and in what way. That used to really bother me, stress me out, and get me down, but not anymore! It’s a journey and hopefully I’ll figure it out soon enough!
@Sara – well hello, and thank you for de-lurking to comment. It’s always nice to know who is reading! 🙂
I honestly feel our society has moved into a way of living that is very unnatural for many people, and as with most things, our culture holds up “standards” of what’s considered acceptable and successful. Thing is, not everyone can live that way. For those that can, awesome. For the rest of us… perhaps we can do what we can to stop stressing over attempting things that aren’t right for us and finding another way. And what does “another way” look like? Well, I think that’s very individual. That’s all I’m really saying here…
This was a very though provoking post, Svasti–and very insightful. I could really relate because after I entered recovery, I needed to havfe a lot of organization in my life–and I think that is helpful for us at times (particularly when we are healing). I wanted a certain order, such as going to school, then to graduate school, getting a job, finding a mate to be happy with–and then living happily ever after. While I did kind of go in that order–along the journey, I realized that it was better for me to not stress so much about the order and to just kind of let go and allow life to happen as it might. I think when we try to control things too much, we get very disappointed when the outcome doesn’t happen the way we think it should. Or something like that. 🙂
You’ll have to forgive me if my thoughts are a bit disorganized, as I ma VERY jetlagged after returning from my travels, as well as very sick with a nasty bug both Les and I picked up while we were away.
I missed reading your blog–and it sure is nice to catch up!
@Melinda – Welcome back! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip when you’ve recovered from your jetlag!! I think the thing is, we all need to pay attention to what we need, not what society dictates we need. And certainly, we need to let go of expectations because as you and I all too aware, things never really work out that any anyhow. Looking forward to your next post! xo