Looking over and beyond
The wall of “what’s next?”
Photograph by J. Klinger
I can’t count the number times I’ve driven away from the house, only to turn back, sure I’ve forgotten to do something—close the garage door/turn off the iron/set the DVR to tape Downton Abby. It’s like I can’t reach escape velocity from worry, a compulsion that kicks in as I reach the limit of home’s gravitational pull. My husband often teases me by stopping at the subdivision perimeter to ask if I’ve left my curling iron on. I have to think about it carefully, even though I haven’t used a curling iron in years.
I had a friend that spoke a mantra of “brains, keys, wallet” before crossing the threshold. Only a single guy could have it so easy. I need a list. Better yet, the ability to turn everything off by IPhone. There’s got to be an app for that.
However, when I have gone back, almost without exception, I’ve done whatever it is I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Thinking about it more carefully, I don’t turn back because I’ve forgotten to do something. I turn back because I cannot remember if I’ve done the task at hand. That’s very different.
It’s a matter of mindfulness, the attention to detail that goes by the wayside in the transition between the now and the soon-to-be-now. The in-between anchors moments in time—establishing both closure and entry, the clearing and setting of the stage. How can I successfully, meaningfully enter into a new sphere if remnants of the old are still tapping on my shoulder, whispering “Hey, are you sure you aren’t burning the house down?”
My life is at a transition point, the crossroad between past and future. I work to move forward, yet I feel stuck, mired in fear and doubt. I alternate between pedaling as fast as I can and dragging one foot behind me to slow down. Perhaps there is some innate wisdom at work.
Part of moving forward is letting go of what is as a critical step in becoming what will be. Saying goodbye to old paths and patterns, perhaps even some people, so I can pull up my foot and pick up speed. Maybe even saying goodbye to a concept of self that has served me well in the past for one that is high beta—high risk, high reward, high probability of burning the house down. The plain truth is that I’m utterly terrified, and maybe the idea that I know exactly what I’m doing—something I have built my persona around—is the very thing I need to turn off and say goodbye to.
So the goal for March is to create a mindful transition. To tend to the details that hold me back from pursuing a dream. To embrace that I have so much to learn, and that’s an opportunity, not a personality flaw. I’m sure I’ll still forget whether I’ve closed the garage door or not, but I won’t worry about the curling iron. I think. It’s a process.
What do you hold on to? What have you set free?