I am someone who has a hard time with the unknown. Not in the general sense, but when it comes to the steps of my own life. As someone who likes to plan, it’s hard for me whenever I can’t put pieces together into a comprehensive picture. I like to have all the information, to put everything in order, and then to have things go the way I plan.
Of course, life absolutely never follows my wishes.
I’ve been noticing my own anxiety and spinning head this week, as J and I pack up our apartment and prepare to move (a whopping 1.5 miles away). It is happening very fast, which means there are a lot of pieces to pick up and put into order: signing the lease, moving money between bank accounts, hiring movers, finding boxes, doing little house repairs that have been on to-do lists for months but never had the right carrot to complete, and on and on. Nothing out of the ordinary, save for the fact that we just saw the place we’re moving into six days ago, and the movers are coming on Friday. The day I have an all-day meeting. Two days before my mom flies into town. Nine days after we viewed the place for twenty minutes.
My mind races with lists and logistics. It makes what feels like a hundred decisions a second, from whether or not to apply for the house to what goes next in a box I’m packing. Spin, spin, spin.
I’ve been looking at my spinning mind, which first tells me that I used to have a spinning mind nearly all the time, and it’s nice to take a moment to appreciate that I’m keeping that at bay. I think it spins not because I’m worried about how much I have to do in the next few days (I trust my own productivity) but because there are so many pieces beyond my control: J dealing with the movers while I’m in a meeting, the lease not being sent, the new landlords being terrible, the feasibility of getting done on Friday what we think we can get done. My mind moves as if it’s scanning for something it can land on and control for more than a passing moment. I can control myself, and so I do to an extraordinary extent. I don’t necessarily think this is a problem, because it lets me turn into overdrive for a few days to attack the project and get a lot done.
The key, for me anyway, is that this isn’t sustainable. This spinning, churning mind also thrives on adrenaline and movement, insomnia and nail-biting, tension and distraction. It can feel addicting at times, this constant hum of excitement, this huge rush of forward movement. I can absolutely understand why operating on this level becomes sought after.
I think of those old wind up toys, how they move for the sake of moving but with no direction, plummeting themselves of tables and bashing themselves into a wall, sometimes still moving despite being stuck or broken, until they finally wear themselves out.
The energy is enviable but the cost is not. There needs to be a balance to life, a soothing ointment that calms our frayed nerves after a stressful five minutes or five days, an ebb and flow to our frantic yet productive periods and our calm and restorative periods. These waves can cycle many times even over the course of the day, if we let them, stopping to appreciate an interesting flower or view even as we rush to work, taking a deep breath even as we go from one meeting to another.
For me, I have to make it almost visceral, I have to literally picture my mind racing around my head and then gently lay a blanket over it, tuck it in for a moment, give it a calm and cozy space to relax, and then give it permission to begin again. And when I begin again, I begin with less buzz and more intention, better able to cope with all the unknowns swirling around without having to chase after them all.