In the last two weeks, I’ve sat down a dozen times to find words I deem worthy to share in this space. Every attempt leads to a saved draft of several sentences and then a few hours later, I dump my words in the virtual trash. Everything is hard right now. Especially writing. When the rhythm wavers, it is a call to pay attention to what fuels this struggle.
Part of my angst stems from my lack of buoyancy. I am inept at dealing with uncertainty and struggle to float when external outcomes push me toward anger, sadness and disappointment. This past spring and summer I’ve experienced a number of rejections, both professionally and personally. Some were completely unexpected like a sudden gust of wind on a still day. Other disappointments, expected, but until I know, I cling on to a small hopeful something, like a young girl hanging onto to the last shiny golden coin in her pocket.
In midlife, it is harder to pick myself up and listen to the phrases I say to my almost ten-year-old daughter. “Try again. It will work out. Don’t give up. You can do it.” Those words don’t land in me the same way. Maybe because I know too much. Or it is easier to identify the things which won’t happen no matter how hard you try. The truth – as much as I bundle up all of the threads of hard work, good intentions and a willingness to keep attempting, it won’t always translate in the way I expected or intended. There are far more foul balls zigzagging everywhere and the home runs feel like they are timed with the errant meteor zooming across the sky.
Yesterday my frustration reached a peak point. I received news which forced me to question and reevaluate certain choices. Uncertainty flashed its neon sign in my head and I let my emotions swallow me. I burst into tears and sobbed. This reaction surprised me. I don’t typically cry after disappointment, but the culmination of several months of receiving less than ideal news took a toll on me.
Afterward there wasn’t relief. I sat with the discomfort, felt sorry for myself and cursed the process. Perhaps it is realizing I don’t have the luxury of youth to take my time and figure things out. Maybe its acknowledging my approach isn’t working as well I hoped. The vacuum of uncertainty reminds me to never get too comfortable to any one certainty. Because I am surrounded by circumstances which are constantly in flux. To be reminded over and over again of this truth, l felt overripe, undone and lost.
Now what? I don’t know the answer to this question. Maybe in my twenties I’d dismiss my disappointment more casually, roll up my sleeves and put up my arms with a brashness only youth affords. In my forties the answers don’t appear like a butterfly emerging out of a cocoon. It is more messy. You realize you might not find the answer. You are forced to sit with the dejection or anger or despair or sadness and try to let it teach you something. What that is, I don’t know.
I am still trying to figure it out. And maybe that it is the whole point.
Image: A musical note by Matthew Fang via Flickr