Make room for lifeboats
I had coffee with my friend last week who’s just been laid off. She’s happy about it. Says she has other things she wants to focus on right now and construction isn’t one of them; she doesn’t like sending her energy there any more. (I appreciate this feeling.)
So, we talked about the plans and possibilities ahead for both of us respectively. “I have all these ideas for art projects,” I say. “And I’m really impatient to get to them, but I can’t seem to stop cleaning everything. I just can’t shake the feeling that cleaning has to get done first.”
I expect her to say something sympathetic like “Oh yeah, it’s so hard to focus sometimes” or maybe (in a mild lecturing tone) something more like “Well, there’s always a chore we think is more important than our art; we need to make the time.” Or maybe a combination of sentiments.
Instead she looks at me with this funny half-smile but her eyes stay serious as she says, “Of course you have to clean first. Gotta make room for the new life to come in.”
And I say that’s funny, because I got onto my purging kick in the first place with this book except instead of learning about organizing my crap, it’s really made me think about where I want my life to go. But I feel like if my next step leads in the wrong direction, I’ll end up in another box. My intuition has been on the fritz lately; I’m uncertain about stepping anywhere. And I’m terrified of boxes.
She says, “Well. Just don’t be like that guy on the Titanic. You know, the guy who’s praying ‘Please God please get me out of this please please please.’ And he’s got his eyes shut tight, he’s holding to the railing and praying so hard, and getting more upset and wondering where is God, why aren’t his prayers being answered. And he ends up going down with the ship. When he gets to heaven, he asks God all angry, ‘Why didn’t you help me? I was praying the whole time!’ And God says, ‘Yeah. And there were lifeboats right there.’ ”
When we’re lost, we want searchlights and rescue helicopters. Dramatic unmistakable neon signs to herd us back to the main road. But the thing that’s actually going to save our asses is the lifeboat over in that cobwebby corner that we won’t see until we open our eyes, get off our inertia, and drag the thing out into the open.
The lifeboat is not solid land. It’s just a boat. It gets us from where we are to somewhere yet to be determined. And much as I would prefer a fully-equipped vessel in which to chart new waters– well, I’ll take the leaky lifeboat any day over going down with the ship.
Plus, I can’t move anywhere with the smoking hull of the Titanic in my way. I need my lifeboat to row far away from that shit and let it sink behind me. Clear the waters. Make room for my new life to come in.
Oh hey there, struggling stepparent!
Listen, I put together a new website just for high-conflict blended families: Blended Family Frappé. Come on over and join the hundreds of other stepparents who are reclaiming their sanity one Sunday newsletter at a time.