I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want from life. Some of this has been prompted by my dear friends’ daughter Ruby taking a really bad fall on an ordinary day in ordinary circumstances that left her life literally hanging in the balance, and now has her needing to relearn everything. It has caused me to think about the value of life (big) and the precariousness of that which we think we have (very).
That being said, it has also made me aware of the preciousness of this time right now (I know, again. I am constantly being reminded of this…hello, my own Carbon Monoxide near-death experience 2 years ago…apparently, I am in the remedial class). These past few years have been a process of truly getting to know myself, stripping away the layers of “protection” that really only serve to sully the view of the landscape—recognizing that I had been living my life from inside a fear bubble layered with “what if” and “I don’t have enough” that had me to desperately trying to hold on very tight and always try for MORE.
This way of life sucked. And was exhausting.
So now I am figuring life out. Again. Only this time, authentically. What do I actually want from life? What actually is enough?
Ruby’s brain injury got me thinking about this partly because I am assessing very simple aspects of life. For example, what time do I like to go to bed? How much sleep do I need? Questions that I feel kind of dumb having to ask myself, as a 33-year old woman, who in many ways, has a pretty successful life.
But here I am: recently I had the kind of day where I chose to eat Chick-Fil-A for lunch, spent the evening crying all over myself, ate Rita’s custard with rainbow sprinkles for dinner and then went to bed. A real Banner Day in the Bender household.
But here I what I learned:
I was processing through some very old patterns (thank you acupuncture treatment)…so old, I can’t even recall when they started. I felt like I hated myself and that everything I tried to do turned to shit. I felt shame: shame of who I am and what I do, condemnation for mistakes like I deserved to be burned at the stake. And some good old comparison to others: “Why can’t I get all the things done I want in a day? In a week? Why am I always scrambling to get enough done?”
That day, there were no answers. Only pain and tears and giving up on the day. And you know what? It helped. Giving up was the best thing I did all day—in giving up, I admitted that I was defeated by that day. There was nothing left for me to accomplish, to finish, to tend to, no more emails/texts/phone calls/FB checks. No more thinking.
It took fast food and ice cream, a hearty painful cry and getting ready for bed at 8:00. It was still light out and boy did it feel good. I turned out the lights for good at 9:45. And guess what time I naturally woke up? 5:45 in the morning. Exactly 8 hours later. Thanks for the intel body.
Once I was cried out and rested, I was able to remember and reflect on the east-coast culture that we live in: the be more, do more, cram 36-hours into the day culture. I have now discovered at least one piece of other people do this life thing: they don’t sleep. In my questioning, they get “Oh, 5-6 hours a night. On a good night, 7.”
This scrambles my brain. I know I need 8 hours of sleep a night (see above 9:45pm-5:45am). Left to my own devices, my body will never (never) wake up before 8 hours.
I, not only like to sleep, I need it. I am blessed/cursed with this thing that if I don’t get enough sleep for a few days, maybe a week, I will get knocked on my ass. I will get run-down, grouchy, and then sure enough, the scratchy sore throat and fatigue I literally can’t stand up through will set in. So my body takes the sleep it needs. By force.
So there is one life question answered (again), one solid ground to start from. I need 8 hours of sleep. Period. Now I can build a day from there. There will be things I can’t do in order to get this. But will it really feel like a sacrifice when what I get is rested?
I know this doesn’t mean that life is now going to magically unfold so that I always get a perfect 8 hour night of sleep. But what I hope it means is that I do my best to honor this, and when it doesn’t happen for whatever life reason, that I am gentle with myself (and therefore those around me), for whatever unfolds in the next day.
In the meantime, I get to experiment with what doesn’t fit into the rest of my 16 hours—and I am looking forward to cleaning out my life-closet of the things that no longer fit, even if they are pretty or shiny or might fit one day. I am going to be sending some activities to the great Good Will in the Sky.