I’ve had such an odd start to the year, those who know me can probably tell things have been strange just by looking at me. I was talking to a friend today about some of it, and he used the term “shrouded in mystery” (particularly relating to my online absence) which didn’t sit well with me. Frankly I didn’t think people would pay so much attention to it, or assume it was caused by them.
So here is my spiel, leading into the year (some explanation rolled in, but not a full story).
There have been key points in my life where I’ve been aware that I am about to take that next step in the evolution of the personality labelled ‘Carly’. Almost always this involved me hibernating for a period of time. While I used to think that this was a bad thing I’m beginning to embrace retreating (either formally at an ashram or temple or just by myself) as something that I need to do regularly (a realisation on its own).
For some progressions the catalyst has been a significant event (joyous or terrible), some have been simply caused by self reflection without having anything actually prompting it. In those cases where something has happened, it almost always was an event involving people.
This time, people were not the primary cause, though several have (in different ways) put their momentum (unknowingly) behind the retreat and were responsible for several minor realisations.
This time it is my health in the driver’s seat – something I’ve never really had reason to be concerned about in the past.
In the last month or so leading up to Christmas I became concerned about my health – my regular exercise routine seemed to be tiring me rather than conditioning me; my sleeping patterns were deteriorating; I felt sick often; and I observed that it was increasingly difficult for me to remember things and get my brain working (to be honest this was what worried and frustrated me the most – I think even my ability to speak and write coherently is affected).
I took myself to the doctor and had a full checkup. Being used to the response “you’re fine. stop worrying. why are you even here?” – I was not prepared for the hesitant concern expressed by my doctor or the five million gallons of bloodwork she ordered.
This concern sat in the back of my mind over Christmas and New Years and I have no doubt it (and often feeling ill) contributed to the short fuse I had with many of my friends over that period.
Early this year I received the results of those tests – which were not great, but I’m not about to drop dead (so stop worrying – it’s the effect of the news and not the news I want to talk about). This was a slap in the face for me.
Essentially I am broken. There are several things that my body can’t do properly – one of which indirectly impedes my brain such that my ability to think and my mood are affected (in addition to the usual low mood that sometimes comes with feeling sick for long periods).
That particular problem has apparently been there for a long time, and has been steadily deteriorating over the last year due to me neglecting and pushing myself in ways most people can handle. Luckily there are ways to help compensate for most of what my body is unable to do for itself. Some other things are just broken and always will be.
My doctors have made it very clear that my body can’t take much more abuse (in no uncertain terms) as well as a few other things that affect my future self. And this is where I find myself assessing my current situation.
Am I doing what I want to be doing, big picture? Am I where I want to be at this point in my life? Have I succeeded in keeping my life free of those things that I know I don’t need or want (or at the very least made a good attempt at it)? Have I filled my life with those things that I do value and do need (or at least made a good attempt at it)? Do I at least have a rough idea of where I want to go from here and am I happy with where the current momentum is taking me? Have I maintained perspective?
There are two things that I want from my life so that when I’m on my death bed I can look back and be satisfied:
- To have as few regrets as possible; and
- To have left a positive impact on the world, no matter how unrecognised or quiet or local that effect is. (I guess the flipside of this is to reduce the negative impact I have on the world while I am here).
And the answers I find? This last week or so I’ve been more aware that medication is making me feel sicker rather than better (I was warned – it will improve soon apparently) and that my brain is only just starting to work again – a welcome change as I’d been doubting my ability to assess and respond to situations or make decisions. This fear of making bad decisions, executing poorly chosen responses and generally feeling ill have been the main reasons I’ve been keeping to myself so far this year (both online and IRL).
I realised I’ve recently made some decisions that I regret, that I’ve handled some situations poorly: I’ve trusted people that have mistreated me, I’ve mistreated people I should’ve trusted. The last fortnight has been especially eventful: I’ve lost friends, made friends, and had a few old friends step back into my life unexpectedly (and for the latter, happily). You know who you are – I was (and am) glad to hear from you. I’ve also found out that some people have taken this retreat / hibernation personally. For those of you I hope this post explains it well enough. You are not the centre of the world
I realised that in some ways I’ve managed to get caught up in little-picture issues, rather than keeping view of the big picture as I normally do. I’ve been holding a few pebbles up to my eye and losing perspective of the fact that the path is strewn with millions of them, and the right place for them is beneath my feet. A part of me wonders if living in the city (city pace, city space, city people) is contributing to it… I don’t know yet.
My plans for study, regular volunteering and aid work prep are progressing as intended. My exploration of Melbourne and Victoria continues, albeit slowly. In these things at least I’m happy with their part in the big picture.
I’m more grounded when I’m in the big picture mindset: this is one reason I like to be outdoors – not necessarily to get away from the city and people (although that does have it’s advantages at times) but more to look up at the sky or the stars and think about the weather system or the universe and how tiny I am. Or look at the trees in the forest and think about time – how much has passed, how much more will pass, and how fleeting my life is.
It sometimes has the opposite effect on people but for me it makes my eyes wide in wonder, helps me feel the breath in my lungs and the feel of the soles of my feet on the earth. I can’t help but smile and laugh there. I am at my best there.
This is the place I’m slowly regaining. This is where I was in the year before I left Australia, where I was while I was away and is a place I’ve found only fleetingly since I returned. This is the place I want to be, am determined to be.
I hope I arrive to find like-minded people standing there with me.
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