Searching for Focus, Searching for Self

I’m starting to realize how difficult it is to carve out a new future when you’re surrounded with your past. This blog, for me, is linked more to my past than it is my future, so I have a hard time sometimes viewing my “blogging duties” in a more positive light. I’m trying to change that, I suppose, but like I say, it’s a struggle.

I picked up a copy of Eat, Pray, Love yesterday, by Elizabeth Gilbert. The reckoning the author faced with her own life, I think, is similar to the one I’m beginning in my own and it would be nice to read about what comes out the other side when one drastically reinvents themself and their life. I may find myself exasperated with how slowly the change unfolds when I’m caught in the midst of it all, but that’s the way it goes when you’re changing your world while still living within it. (Unlike Gilbert, who had the means and time to run away and travel in the self-discovery phase.)

It’s difficult to reach that point where you understand what you don’t like about yourself, what you’re not happy about, and you become cognizant of how much that dissatisfaction poisons everything around you. I’m realizing how apparent my unhappiness has been to those around me, and for how long, and it’s disconcerting to come to terms with just how much I’ve been projecting, and how many questions that coming to terms really answers in my life… some things I’m just not comfortable exploring on the page just yet. I know my heart panged when I heard Gilbert say how stunned she was that apparently Julia Robert’s playing her in the movie of her book — the darling actress everyone loves is going to play the author when the author didn’t even like who she was back then. I’m realizing lately how much I don’t like who I’ve been, and how much I believe in my ability to change that, now that I’m aware.

I feel like I’m making the ripples that need to happen before the waves of change come crashing in. Ripples… ripples are good. In every little area of my life, I’m beginning to exact change. Small change. But I’m seeing the dividends already. This yoga thing, for instance, is something I’ve wanted to do a long time, but for incredibly silly reasons, mostly insecurities and fear, just never made happen. It’s not really the actions of yoga that I’m so after… I do a lot of stretching out of necessity, and it’s not that wildly different, but yoga offers that mentality of being entirely in the now — focusing on how everything affects the body and knowing precisely what it is you feel at all times. It’s very much about being indoctrinated into the “mind over matter” power. I need that discipline, and after only three days, I’m already gaining a greater consciousness… something I haven’t been dialed into for a little too long.

It’s funny, you know, because it calls to mind back when I was teaching a couple friends to drive stickshift/standard transmission when I was 19 or 20. I remember saying, “It’s just like sex. Whatever you do, it has a consequence, and if you’re lucky, it’ll like what you’ve done…” and explained how you needed to be at one with the engine and you’d start to tell just by the feel of the car’s vibrations and the sound of the engine when it was time to shift — you needed no gauges, you just needed to feel when it was right. Just like sex.

I have terrific intuition in life, and I have a great sense of flow and timing, and believe you me, I can drive stick. For some reason, though, I use those qualities everywhere but within my own day-to-day life. I don’t live by the same principles that I act with, if that makes any sense at all. It’s your typical female conundrum, I suppose… doing more and better for others than we do for ourselves, as if we’re somehow going to be pegged as selfish bitches for acting on our own behalf.

I’ve been having this whole “I’ve got to give back!” mentality in my life, lately, thinking I live so selfishly that I need to begin projecting outward more in ways that benefit others. Then I realized, I’m not living as selfishly as I should be. I’m on the cusp of it, but I really need to go there and really do things for me, for the right reasons, and not because I’m feeling compelled to by whatever societal constraints being imposed on me. And when it comes to really celebrating the self, I wanna finally start being the “rockstar” I know I am. Deep down inside, that rockstar exists, and now I’m compelled to make that the external me… and that’s gonna take some quality selfishness to pull off. I’m at one, now, with being a little more selfish… provided I’m doing it right.

Elizabeth Gilbert, that author of the book mentioned up there, she’s on Oprah talking about her “bathroom floor” moment, that moment when the skies part and you realize how unhappy your life is making you, and the lightbulb flashes and you realize also that, “I don’t need to take this shit. I can do better. I have control.” I dunno. Sometimes I feel like the last 14 months of my life has been that bathroom floor moment, but that’s definitely overstating things.

I guess, for a while there, I allowed myself to feel victimized by difficulties in life. It’s easy to feel like someone up there’s ganging up on you, like hardships are falling your way more often than they are others. I’ve tried hard to think about it in a few ways: One, it’s a test of my mettle. How strong am I? Well, I tell ya, now I really know. Two, I’m experiencing it so that when my friends and family have to endure similar challenges, I can be there to support them and offer a voice of experience. Three, if I’m in this life to live, then I’d better just do that… so bring it on. And then I falter and just feel sorry for myself again, because, hey, I’m human, and sometimes the present seems so overwhelming and it’s easy forget that today’s the tomorrow we were hoping for yesterday, right?

I’m 34 now. I feel like I’m just getting started on a pretty great path. It feels like it’s taking forever to get anywhere of consequence, but I know I have the rest of my life to reap the rewards of everything I sow now. I’m setting the stage for a play of experience that will last me the remainder of my days… so I’m not in the rush I thought I was. Still… getting there after being here is going to be a terrific party to be at.

Unfortunately, we live in a society of instant gratitude. We’re a microwave, flash-cooking society that just doesn’t grasp taking the scenic route to get anywhere, and I’m sometimes guilty of that, being a pretty impatient gal. Trouble is, most of the really great places can’t be gotten to on main paths. Taking the long way, waiting and struggling, is often the only way we really get anything of value.

I’m trying to remember that these days as I work a little more on each and every day in the quest to make myself into a Better, Faster, Stronger, Smarter, Sexier, More Grounded, More Aware Steff… in New, Improved Flavours… or your money back!

But it’s hard, man. It’s hard. I’m reminding myself that, in Chinese superstition, the number 8 signifies abundance. We’re days away from 2008… the year I have declared to be my personal year of abundance, the year when all my struggles begin to bear the fruit that are now just blossoms. So, I’m going to enjoy my struggle while it lasts, because it’s times like these I know have incredible outcomes. Trouble is, I was always that kid who opened all her Christmas presents in advance and carefully taped them back up… waiting for reward’s not my strong suit. :)