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The Mad Cycle of Leveling Up & Exiting...

I have done it all my life.  Completely unaware of this ongoing, fast paced cycling in my life.  I have been so “in it” that I could not see it or really even experience it.  It was just always there and I was so completely consumed by it, I could not see it at all.  Like some sort of backdrop that so blends in with the surroundings that you fail to notice it at all.

Spending 10 days alone will show you some things, as it turns out.

For 10 days in a row, there was no one but me.  Just me, a lot of driving and a lot of cows and sheep.  There were days that I didn’t speak to anyone, save the cows and sheep.  And some days, not even them.

When one sits alone with oneself, things are revealed.  And for the most part, mine revelations were good news.  My evaluation of my life from 5100 miles away came up pretty good.  I mean there are always the things, right?  Wish I had more of this and less of that.  Winning the lottery would be ideal right now.  Lose 5 pounds, have things sag less, appear more youthful.  But after all that shit faded away, my evaluation of my life was that I have a good life.

So it somewhat surprised me that when I came home I sank into a depression.  The last five days have been brutal.  I have given no fucks about anything and seriously just didn’t want to be anywhere, like at all.  I felt so flat.  So completely uninterested in anything that was going on in my life.

I have spent a great deal of time inventorying why I feel this way.  And I came up with the following:  jet lag, May Gray weather and jetlag.  That is all that was different.  And I suppose there was a little letdown about the trip being over and not really having another one planned just yet.

So my time alone was put to good use.  I thought the thoughts and then felt the feelings the thoughts produced.  And I went up and I went down but mostly I just lived.  Each day a new beginning to see new things, and to just be present for whatever unfolded.

But then I came home to the life I actually have that was filled with messes, and pain, and hardship and work, and parenting, and I really just didn’t want to do any of it. Like at all.

So over the last five days I have addressed the things I can.  I have gone to bed early and attempted to get my body and mind back into the timezone for which I live.  I have resumed my work routine, my exercise routine and my eating plan.  I have put myself back into my life the way it usually goes.

What I has been revealed to me, is that I have lived most of my life in this mad cycle of leveling up and/or exiting.   I have spent most of my time in life attempting to use the activities of the day to either gain me access to a level of excitement or ecstasy that is not usually granted to mere mortals on the daily.  I have been greedy where this is concerned.  I have used all the things to help me feel like life is better than it actually is.  

What I got on this grand Irish adventure was that life has been kind of disappointing to me.  I expected more.  I expected a lot more from life.  Like I am not sure exactly what I expected, I just expected more, a lot more of everything.  And so it was quite a nasty surprise for me to realize that life is actually not all that exciting a great deal of the time and that doesn’t mean anything is wrong, it just means that life has to have long stretches of boring, monotonous shit.  And if you can’t accept this, then you become like me who will stir some shit up, manufacture some shit or just blow the fuck out of life events just so that I can feel like living isn’t a form of dying after all.

And there is the exiting.  The leveling up is a form of exiting but in a different direction.  I exit so much of life.  Relationships I find uninteresting and humdrum.  People I just don’t care for.  Jobs that lack luster or are so demanding that they take way more than they give.  I realize that exiting and leveling up have become my backdrop addictions to replace drugs and alcohol and men, this is what I do now to change the way I feel.  To keep the unremitting boredom from ever landing.  

What I realized on my trek was that I really am most afraid of being bored.  To be left alone with myself and have nothing of interest happen to me.  For life to be so predictably calm, that one day just blends into the next with nothing to earmark the day as being anything but ordinary.  I realize that I just loathe ordinary.

So I have been caught in a trap of my own making.  And the last one to know this was me.  I was so busy leveling up and exiting that it was all I had time for...until I spent 10 days on the road with myself, and only myself.  And I could see myself think of a million ways to level up or exit.  But none of them were viable because of my circumstances...

And so I had to sit with this person that basically finds life to be a letdown.  And I feel that way about my life because I am so addicted to this leveling up and exiting phenomena.  In truth, my life has been an exciting adventure.  I have done a lot.  Seen a lot and got to experience a great deal of stuff repeatedly.  What I realized in Ireland was that it didn’t matter how much leveling up or exiting I did, there was never going to be enough for someone like me.  Like ever.

So I was faced with a choice.  To accept this about myself and just roll with until death.  Or to work to change it, which felt like a hard ask, if I am honest.  But something happened to me over there.  I found some quiet acceptance for this truth I was afraid to tell...that life just hasn’t lived up to my expectations of it.  I really felt like it should be grander, more opulent, more faceted than it is.  And I should have more of things that I want and less of the things that I didn’t.

And then I saw it.  This bratty, spoiled person who demanded things from life that were way beyond the scope of the possible or reasonable.  Just because there are other people living that way doesn’t mean that I should or could.  I came to believe that the life I am living right now is the one, and the only one, I am destined to live.  It matters not at all what other people are or aren’t doing.  My life is filled with ups and downs and I make this whole thing more extreme by my incessant demands that things be other than how they are.

I think I missed the point of living really.  It isn’t to level up or exit.  It is to be brave and strong enough to accept your current conditions as best you can.  To do the footwork to change the things you find unacceptable, and to know when life just has you beat and there is no change that is gonna come, at least not in the moment you want it.  Things will change, that is the very nature of life and living.  Things do not remain the same.

I learned that you can miss a great deal of life by being dedicated and committed to this never ending process of leveling up and exiting.  Always trying to make the highs higher and avoid the lows at all costs.

Well I have just walked through one of the worst lows in recent history and turns out there was a lot of super helpful information in there for me.  And perhaps if I would have been wiling to disengage from the leveling up and exiting for long enough, I would have realized that before now.  And maybe with less pain along the way...but probably not, I am always going to be a head banger...apparently.

I don’t need to level up.  Right now, where I am, who I am and what I am is enough.  And I don’t need to exit either.  There is nothing so bad in my life right now that I need to escape from.  And it never really changes anything just makes me have to begin the cycle all over again...

So I guess the lesson is that I see the cycle.  I see how committed I have been to skimming the surface of life.  How much I have avoided, railed against, detoured, and completely fucking missed because of this misplaced dedication to leveling up and leaving.

So I am working with accepting that life is often boring and seems, so far at least, to be less than what I would like it to be.  And that is still truth for me.  But, perhaps, maybe, if I can stop all the leveling up and exiting, I might find that life is pretty exciting and amazing and wonderful just as it is.  And the great crescendos that I seek are already happening, just not in the ways that I want or need.  And perhaps if I pay closer attention to what is right before me, I will find this excitement I have been seeking all along.

Because I will tell you that the past five days in my head have been riotous.  It has been a very interesting and excitable but just oriented towards the negative.  I have foundered. And now, feel like I am righting myself and in that righting, I am coming to see some hard truths about me and the way I have insisted life to be...

So today as I begin this new day, I endeavor to observe the need to level up or exit and instead of engaging either one, to just see what madness or excitement I can find in the here and now.  I mean I am a divorce attorney for fuck’s sake.  I mean, all I have to do is open a fucking email and drama abounds.  Why is this not enough for someone like me?

I am not sure.  But I think I am finding out...slowly, one day at a time.  And while I wish this experience were more pleasant and to my liking, I really do believe it is all unfolding perfectly and the hard feelings that come with it are to grow me up and out into a better, more complete version of myself.  And that maybe, if I am really lucky this new outgrowth of Erin can and will be helpful to others.  And a little less self serving...because I have really learned this for damn sure:  service to self only feels good while you are doing it.  Service to others glows long after the experience has ended.  And for someone like me who is so addicted to the leveling up and exiting, perhaps just maybe this tide turning away from service to self might just be the thing I have been looking for all my life.

Perhaps not the best motivator for service...but perhaps not all change looks good from the onset.  Perhaps one has to be willing to go to the depths with oneself before one can really ever begin the long trek to the know what I am gonna say...



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