Day 128 - Staying Put
Weird topic. I know. But it is on my mind because it is something I find incredibly hard to do. Growing up as a military brat, my life was always shifting and changing. I was literally always on the move. At 50, the longest I have ever lived under one roof was 4.5 years. That was in 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th grades. So 40 years ago. Since then, courtesy of the US Army or, later, the wanderlust it instilled in me, I have always moved approximately every 3 years. Sometimes more often. I just counted...my current home, the 36th home I have known in my life. That was quick count, there might be more...
That means that on average, I moved very 1.38 years. This seems incredible to me. Which then requires further examination...
As a kid, I learned early that life changed. We got orders and off we went. I had no say in the matter. The United States Army didn’t care about what I wanted or where I wanted to go. They only marginally cared about where my dad wanted to go. And that was mostly dictated by his career. He needed to go to certain commands in order to advance in rank. So we went. Always. The only time my life became more important than what the US Army wanted, was in high school. My mom and I left living overseas a year early so that I would not have to do my senior year of high school at a new school. I was very grateful for this. I went to three different high schools as it was. Having to be the new kid at the very end would have been very hard.
I want to be clear that I am not pointing fingers or saying that my life should have been different. I am merely recounting what happened. This is what occurred. Landing me here in my at least 36th home in 50 years. I need to take a minute to let that soak in.
I don’t think until last night that I ever stopped to think about what that meant: I took a lifestyle that was given to me at an early age and made it my own without ever even thinking about it. I always assumed that the restlessness I would get at about year two was something that needed to be addressed and the only way to address it was to move. As I was driving home from the airport last night, literally driving back into my life, I was kind of overtaken by the life that I have today. Where I live, where I work, where I live in relation to those I love, what my community is like, the quality of life that I have here. It was almost overwhelming.
I will admit that before I left on the business trip, I was ready to throw it all away. Move. Leave. Fonward (Fucking onward for those of you that need an Erin translation). I didn’t examine it prior to this weekend. I just listed my house and began preparations to do what I had always done...leave.
I got to spend some time away from my regular life this weekend. In a city. The energy completely different from my usual life. The people different and foreign. The city flashing all the things that my life lacks: excitement, unpredictability, many cultural opportunities. I was immersed in city life and I have to say I really enjoyed the energy of it all. I thought “I could totally live here. I could do city life again.” And I could. But then I thought of all the beings that I am responsible for: my children, my animals including a freaking horse, my routine, my family, my friends. I thought about how hard it would be to fit all of them into a citied life. Just the mental effort of that image left me drained and tired.
I spent the weekend getting to know my restlessness. Seeing all the ways in which I have always accommodated my wanderlust without ever really giving it any thought or examination. I lived my life in two year windows, always having to move it along when the thought came, and it always came, and it was time to leave again.
I even married someone in the military. The life so comfortable for me, that I was willing to throw my life again into an organization’s hands where I was completely unimportant, my needs, wants and desires always taking a backseat to mission priorities.
As I was driving home from the airport last night, I was talking to a friend. We were discussing my options and my past. I realized just how much my past was dictating my present. Having never really realized this before. It was kind of a “I am hungry so I will eat thing.” “I feel restless so I will move.”
This weekend I looked at this trait in myself. I turned it around and examined it from all sides. I realized that I get bored. My need for routine and structure so paramount that I create a somewhat monotonous daily practice that sometimes becomes mind numbing. It provides me a sense of safety and security but it failed to address this other large part of me that needs excitement and change and lack of routine.
What I saw for the first time was that I really moved because that is what I have always done. Told myself that that is just who I am and how I am in the world. It never really occurred to me that I could do something different.
What I saw clearly on my way back into the life I have worked hard to create was how unstablizing a move would be right now. How much relocation would mean excitement but that my daily life so busy and demanding that the added pressure a move would bring about would cause a great deal of stress. I mean a lot. Financial and otherwise especially since I haven’t a clue where I would go. The selling of my home the easy part.
What was super odd for me was that I lacked the gunghoedness of my former self. Always able to rally about a move. Getting behind the excitement and change with a fervor. Contorting myself into whatever shape the new location would demand of me.
As I returned to all that was familiar to me, where my family lives, where my life happens, I was struck by how much I loved the life that I have. How much it means to me. How much my childhood did not allow for stability and security by having a stable home. How little choice I had in the matter. How I took this childhood and replayed it as an adult over and over and over again.
I realized that while I did not regret all the of the past moves and shifting, that perhaps that was not really what I wanted now. How much of my current behavior and decisions was based on the past? How much am I mixing it all up because that is what I always do? How much was moving just a habit and nothing more?
This struck me at my core.
I didn’t want to move. I liked my house. My life there. What I have built and created. That unlike my childhood, this was not something that I had to not love or value because no matter how I felt, I would not be forced to let it go before I was ready. That perhaps my greatest challenge would be to stay put. Remain. Not move. Become still within all the internal energy and emotion. I could sit and watch all the manifestations of the past influencing and attempting to flex their will in my present. I could just remain.
It is scary. To sit with oneself. To stop all the action and just be still. Sometimes it feels like if I stop moving, I will die. Dramatic I know but it is how I feel. Like the movement is my life. Without it I do not know who I am.
Right now though, I am getting to know me better. Unmoored from my past in a way that allows reflection and reframing. Who would I be if I didn’t move? Who would I be if I did? Seeing the challenge for what it is: can I, will I do something different?
As terrifying as this is, I am going to stay put. I am going to deal with the life I have built and not throw it all up into the air. I am going to try remaining instead of moving. I am going to try staying put when everything in my body tells me to go. I know it is the right thing, that I am selecting what is best for me...because it calls to my higher self. The one that says, stretch here. Lean this way. Grow in this direction. But this time, with roots firmly planted, stretch into the light that shines right where you are.