When we are kids, I think we all have a vision of what it will be like as an adult. What we never imagine is that, by and large, we will feel exactly the same as we do when we are 10. We just have more responsibility, we begin to have difficulty recognizing the face staring back at us in the mirror, and we often still have the same insecurities we did from our childhood and teen years.
Or possibly that was a very long confession about me.
Either way, the path the rest of this entry will take won’t change because it is about me. How convenient. My good friend, Heather, promises that when we write, the more specific we are about our path, our struggles, the more general it is, the more it applies to everyone or most everyone. I am trusting her on this one. Much like psychotherapist Nicole Sachs says, when we suffer, we all suffer the same. That is a wordy way of saying, the human condition is not optional. We all live it, breathe it, experience it, and sometimes lament it. That is normal. I am learning to stop fighting it.
I am participating in a 24-hour race this weekend and I am nervous. Let’s be honest, if I was doing a 5k I would be nervous. It’s part of how I show up to life: nervous. As I said, we think being an adult will be full of freedom and being able to do what we want and to a degree that’s true but we are still ourselves. I get nervous for sundry reasons but the biggest one is I want to meet my goals. I want to feel good about myself. I want to accomplish something that at some point nearly threatens to defeat me. Another way to say it is, I want to show up for my life. If we are, there is no escape hatch from the discomfort that comes. For me it may be nervousness, for you, it may be something else. But setting big goals, taking risks, speaking our truth, all of it has big payoffs and big drawbacks. We are required to choose it.
Dr. Susan David, in her book Emotional Agility, says “discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” At first, this sounds like terrible news and then you realize, oh I haven’t been doing something wrong. This push and pull I feel when I am about to do or try something that really matters to me is the “cost,” the price of admission. This is how it feels, to some extent, for everyone.
It’s our interpretation of it that’s garbled. We think if we feel unsure, doubt, nervousness, anxiety or let’s just name it, fear, then it is a sign that we are on the wrong path. Susan David claims that courage is “fear walking.”
Again with the push/pull, good news/bad news scenario. I don’t know about you but I am fairly securely attached to the notion that life could be a tad easier. Joseph Campbell said to follow your bliss. I don’t recall him saying that it was also going to scare the ever-lovin bejeezus out of you. Do you? OK, so I haven’t read a lot of JCs work but still. He could’ve led with the important details. At least Gloria Steinem gave us a hint that the truth would set us free but first we would be PO’d.
Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, showing up for life.
One of the ways I show up for life is by a physical challenge. Tomorrow, I am returning to the Outrun 24. For some of you long-time readers, this may ring a bell. It’s the very race that Lowi and I, along with some friends ran for my 40th birthday adventure. This race holds sweet memories. It is the racecourse that I found confidence in my ability to endure, to keep at it even when it would have been easier to quit. To be able to return to this race, after some time and a postponement due to covid in 2020 is a gift to me.
This race means a lot and when that’s the truth for me, I feel nervous. I am learning to step back and feel that push/pull not as a problem but a sign that I care about this adventure. I have a better interpreter. Am I enjoying the nervousness? Umm, no. Do I appreciate feeling the small knot in my stomach until the clock starts ticking down from 24:00:00? No.
But this is the price. This is what I have to pay in order to get the prize: a full life.
I recently celebrated a birthday and I am amazed to think it’s been seven years since I ran the Outrun 24 for the first time. I still remember how anxious I was before that race. For a long while, I was embarrassed about how emotional I was before that race. Now I can look back and see it differently. I cared so much about that race. I cared so much that everyone who decided to do this event with me had fun and was safe. I simply cared about it — A WHOLE LOT. It was meaningful to me and that was the price of entry.
We will pay a price to stand back or to step forward. Everything comes at a cost. There will always be push/pull. I do feel confident that around 8 am on Sunday morning no matter how tired my body feels, I will be glad I showed up. The push and pull that seemed sure to pull me under will have become my buoy. Life, it’s such a beautiful mess.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G