I believe in sudden prophecies told by a best friend on a moonlit midnight in Switzerland.
“You’re challenge right now, Prince Philip,” Aaron said, “is going to be dealing with Patience.” We then got into a shouting match over the Senate testimony into Russian meddling in our election and whether America was just a shell country run by secret Russian capitalist overlords.
But Aaron was right — about Patience that is. I have had an itch of general anxiety creeping into my day-day life: at parties, at home, on the subway. A constant need to busy myself, occupy my mind, listen to a Michael Jackson Soundcloud remix of “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough” for the 20th time that day, just to drown out this feeling. I have described my life over the last couple of months as an existential limbo, transition time, “becoming who I am not yet.” And my sad refrain sounds pathetic, even to me, and an excuse for not making the next move.
I also have tried to be gentle with myself, with my inner taskmaster who demands me (and life itself) live up to perfect standards. I find this taskmaster constantly fretting about how to not miss any moments. I find myself drifting thru parties from one conversation to another, always searching for “the right conversation” instead of being present. I obsess over minutiae: if the Bluetooth speaker at the party is playing a track that isn’t just right for the moment, I fuss. If it’s playing the most excellent audiophonic delight, then I worry about what’s playing next. I’d probably be a lot happier if I just made playlists in advance.
My friend Margaret described four basic needs people have: to be seen (understood for who you truly are), to be heard (for people to not ignore what you’re putting out), to be touched (fucking!), to be loved (hugging). I feel lacking right now in almost all four, especially when it comes to intimacy and feeling like a part of a community.
But I was describing the above state of limbo to another friend last night, when he told me his husband’s sister was having health issues. And he said in a low voice, “Life will hit you in the face when you least expect it. So why are you so sad, Philip? What’s wrong? What’s really wrong with your life?” And I acknowledged he was correct: I am privileged and whining…though I also don’t discount the real source of my pain: my loneliness. This friend heard me, and he didn’t judge what I said, but he did say, “Then man up.”
Man up. I’ve been waiting for permission to get out of my mental limbo for weeks, months now. Waiting to reach some arbitrary tipping point where I start making the changes I tell my therapist I want to make in my life. Where I don’t just conceptuatlize the problem and theorize the solution but actually get down to testing the hypothesis. Where I take myself and my soul seriously, and stop wasting time fretting about being stuck.
Man up to meditating in the mornings, like I said I would.
Man up to focusing while meditating on meditating, instead of letting myself become distracted and pause the meditation to shoot off that email that’s bugging me.
Man up to working out, eating right, taking care of your body.
Man up to how I spend my time. I followed the advice of this Medium article and deleted all my smarphone apps on my phone because I am addicted to checking social media and email mindlessly and endlessly. But I won’t get rid of the Safari browser on my phone, and so now I just manually log in to the website versions of the apps I just deleted! So…man up and stop yourself and honor the boundaries you set.
Man up to walking my Labrador enough so that she gets actual exercise for a dog her size.
Man up to telling my family I love them more often.
Man up to not holding bitterness close to my heart, to letting go of the past, to not expecting things to overnight improve because I deserve as such.
Most of my pain and suffering in NYC is a result of moving at a breakneck pace, sending emails when I should sleep on them, repeating mistakes and expecting different results like the definition of insanity, and not trusting my inner intuition when it says to slow down. Patience — it all comes back to learning patience and shifting my focus from the destination of where I want to be to being in touch with where I am right now — including the sadness I’ve buried inside. Or as my friend Margaret put it to me the other day, “When you’re going through Hell, keep going.”