Post-menopause and a variety of health issues have conspired to force me to take some time off and get some much needed rest. Rest is the most important commodity and the hardest to come by as a many years’ struggle with insomnia threatens to undo me.
So. I’m taking time off to focus on taking care of me. And I kind of hate it. It’s crazy to hate it because I happen to have the luxury of being free to take time off and slow down. The problem is it makes me feel purposeless.
The fact that it makes me feel purposeless is also kind of crazy because what’s more important than our health? Without it life gets stripped away – perhaps forever! With our health we can accomplish anything we set our sights on, or so we’ve been told. It’s a good idea. It keeps the hope and energy going to accomplish things. So why isn’t accomplishing better health, even if it requires slowing down and focusing on my needs and desires for the time being, something meaningful to be accomplished?
While processing my discomfort with all this freedom and seeming purposelessness, I found myself contemplating how I’ve spent my adult life barreling through it. I reckon it’s natural to barrel through life. Certainly barreling through childhood and youth is a natural outpouring of all that youth and energy.
Barreling through life can also be tied up in dysfunction, though. Being a supportive personality type I spent years barreling through the self-imposed requirement to make my beloveds happy, meeting their needs, desires, wishes, whatever-it-took-to-make-them-happy-so-I-could-be-happy. This included not only family and friends but employers, preachers, teachers, spiritual leaders, transformational leaders, and even pets. Hmmm…was I barreling through my life or theirs?
The hardest question you can ask me, the one I cannot answer, is “What do you want?”
I don’t know.
Tell me what you want and then I’ll have something with which to work.
Some people ask themselves what they want every single day – every hour – even most of the minutes during their waking hours! I can’t fathom that.
I can give you a long list, a very long list, of what I don’t want; which a therapist once told me was a very feminine way to be. That’s never helped me figure out what I want, though. The list of what I don’t want just gets longer and dearer.
I’ve decided that I believe the question, “What do I want?” is best asked in silence. It’s best asked in silence because the best answer to it must come out of the silence.
So with this processing and musing over the need to slow down and focus my energy on myself and getting well, I decided I needed to give me permission to embrace solitude, creating the silence from which the answer to any question might arise. I am, after all, not only a supportive type but I am an introvert and I love to be left alone for at least a little bit every single day. Also, embracing solitude, rather than feeling purposeless, is a viable spiritual discipline and that helps me come closer to accepting what presently is – and that is it’s time to slow down, focus on me, and get well.
Embracing solitude, welcoming silence and casting questions into it, waiting for the answers; these things are not done in a hurry – not accomplished while barreling through my own or anyone else’s life. Nor are they a waste of time. In fact, although this is not how I’m used to spending time, it is likely some of the best use of it.