But compared to what?
It’s often said that life is strange, oh yes,
But compared to what?
~~ Steve Forbert, “January 23-30, 1978”
This business of creating a new life is complicated, messy, sometimes really scary, and most definitely nonlinear. Every time I think I’ve started to figure things out and take some steps in the right direction, something weird happens that distracts me, confuses me, or smacks me in the head on my way over the cliff.
The past few days have been like that. I’m really making an effort to get out, try new things, see and talk to real people face to face. It can feel fun and natural one moment and terrifying the next. As an introverted person, being in a crowd of people has has never been easy but it is especially hard for me now because I can’t go find Kurt when I get freaked out. I can feel comfortable and at ease in a large room full of people for a few moments, and then suddenly see or hear or feel something that makes me so overwhelmed with Kurt-memories (that I didn’t even know were ever present in that room) that I have to leave. I get that strangling tightness in my throat that my doctor insists is directly caused by anxiety (he told me that the “lump in your throat” feeling is a literal, muscular phenomenon associated with anxiety).
Usually, when it’s not too bad, the best cure for that sort of anxiety is to just go out and run. All the shaky, fluttery feelings vanish once I settle into my running stride. But this weekend I didn’t even feel motivated to run. I seem to be one of those people who is affected by rapid changes (up or down) in barometric pressure, and by the winds that accompany those rapid changes. Wind makes me a little bit crazy; it always has. So I could not even consider going out this morning, but I was so unsettled, tired, shaky, and headachy that I couldn’t look at my treadmill either. Maybe tomorrow after work I will feel more like it. Maybe the wind will stop blowing. I’m registered to run a 5k “turkey trot” race next Saturday, and I intend to get out there and do it unless there is snow or ice on the ground… which there very well could be.
I want my life to move in the direction of a “new normal,” but I’m also aware that “normal” is an illusion; everything and everyone who is alive is changing all the time. “Complex adaptive system operating far from equilibrium” is a reasonably good definition of a living organism. If I want to keep living (and I do), then I have to accept that there will always be lump-in-the-throat moments, and that those very moments, no matter how strange, are the “stuff” of our lives. Life can be painful or just plain weird sometimes, but it’s also exciting to live in the midst of such strangeness, especially in the context of the “compared to what?” existential question.
One step at a time.