Is the garage door open?

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?

4 comments on “Is the garage door open?

  1. I’ve been working on letting go of what I think others think of me as a writer. I’m trying to stay true to myself and have more fun. Staying present and not getting so far ahead of myself that I’m constantly overwhelmed. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your less weighted journey.

    • mobyjoecafe says:

      I have yet to fully embrace myself as a writer, to ignore the barely hidden eyeroll when I tell people this is what I want to do. Then again, maybe that’s just self-projection. If I can accomplish that, maybe I can finally commit to what is required to make it real. It is easier to dwell in the fantasy of overnight success than to face the reality that very few ever make a living as a novelist. As a former corporate climber, letting go of the conventional notion of success and progress is the first notion that has to go.

  2. susannye says:

    Jeannine – Many thanks for this post – I too turn around too many times … because I forgot my camera, left my coffee on the counter or even the address or directions to my destination. And yes, it’s been awhile but I have left the garage door open.

    Several years ago I simultaneously changed jobs, returned to the US after almost 2 decades abroad and bought a new house. The transition was nightmarish. I sometimes forgot what I was saying in the middle of a sentence. Since there is Alzheimer’s in my family it scared the bejezus out of me. Luckily I read somewhere that major life changes can overload your brain – there is too much new stuff and not enough familiar stuff circulating in your head so it’s hard to keep it all sorted. After about 6 months I went back to normal or what passes for normal with me.

    I could be wrong but I think that if you take yourself seriously as a writer – others will too. And by serious, I mean get out there and publish. You can take little steps while you work on your novel … it will help you get a following and give you credibility with publishers. Try freelancing with magazines or enter short story contests. It will help you make progress and enjoy success and small wins.

    Again, thanks for the post and good luck to you – Susan

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