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– Shedding

June 18, 2012


It’s weird isn’t it, how seemingly easy it is to programme us human beings?  I suppose that’s how society works, people somehow having similar aims or aspirations and then going about fulfilling them in the same way.  Like getting up early in the morning and going to work.  We start being programmed into this by having to go to school and it continues when we go to work.  It wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about when I was working, that’s the thing about human beings, we settle for certain givens and don’t think to really consider them at any point.   But then we threw up our old life and my job went, along with everything else.  No more rising at 6.00am and hitting the road at 6.45am, eleven years of that was enough.  You’d think that the luxury of having no alarm clock would have been wonderful, I certainly thought it would be, but it took a long time before I could enjoy it, such was the overwhelming programming.  For ages I woke up at around six or seven and virtually leapt out of bed.  My heart pounding while I tried to remember what it was I had to worry about.  I was so accustomed to having a head full of tasks to be sorted, considered or solved that when I was in my old life, I’d hit the carpet at a run, already fired up.  Actually I realised later that I had trained my mind to wake up ten minutes before the alarm so that it could start powering up ready for that leap out of bed.  When I stopped doing it my body took time to adjust.  Even when we were living in our van it still happened, and when we were living in the mountains of Galicia I still had it.  Eventually I realised I had managed to wrestle free of it when we were living in Portugal where I woke to the luxury of getting up in my own time.

Apparently the waking up panic is a thing, a phenomena or something.  I remember getting an email from a friend who told me about a friend of hers who had given up her stressful job and had gone to live in Wales.  Every morning she woke up wracked with panic and worse, worried about her decision to leave the world of stress.  How would she survive?  What had she done?  She worried that she’d never get a job again, or be able to return to the city etc. etc.  It was strange to hear that it wasn’t a personal madness and I always hoped that the friend got through it.

Obviously having been programmed into thinking that anxiety is a normal state and that it’s necessary in order to achieve anything, I didn’t stop worrying about things even after I’d convinced my brain to stop going into overdrive at the crack of dawn.  I seamlessly channelled my worries into thinking about the future.  Always a rich seam, which I have begun to believe, is positioned in exactly the right place to kick in after the other anxiety waned, at the point of breaking free.  The future, the unknown, the bogeyman, the thing which keeps everyone working tirelessly, just in case.  Strange isn’t it how our brains and the status quo kind of collude to keep everyone in their place.

Going into freefall after leaving work and moving to a foreign country was never going to be anything other than worrying, and it was hard.  It was particularly difficult because I didn’t know anyone else who’d done it, so there wasn’t anyone who I could email and whine to.  But eventually I discovered a couple of important things; the first was that being able to maintain a high level of anxiety is impossible because eventually it becomes just a mundane worry.  And the second thing was to accept that time should just be allowed to exist and pass, that it wasn’t necessary to fill it.  I know people who continue to run their lives as if they were in a job after they’ve retired, filling their days with stuff, jobs that needed doing, appointments, meeting people, going to  events, or visits to this or that place.  I realised that stuffing time full of external ‘must-do’s’ was just a way of replacing one busy life with another, so if I did that, what would  have been the point in my changing my life?

However, despite having made these discoveries I still pondered what I was supposed to do with my time and worried about wasting it and just how terribly embarrassing it would be to have given up everything for nothing.  Well, nothing amazing or tangible anyway.  But then, that idea of success can only be measured by a stick from the conventional view of things.  What I now know is that I’m trying to discover the something which makes me feel that I’ve succeeded.  An intangible something, not governed or measured in the usual way by large sums of money or incredible fame.   What I’m aiming to do it is to discover that thing, or those things which make me feel I’ve got somewhere, travelled a distance from my old life, learned to look at things differently and found a new way of living my life, a way which hasn’t been programmed or predicted by anyone, but one which is meaningful only to me.  I hope I find it and I accept that maybe I’ll be looking for a long time, but, I do have a strong sense that the search is going to turn out to be part of the answer so in that case, I’m already on my way.

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