I have a recurring fantasy. The world keeps spinning but somehow I manage to step off, suspended in space, until I decide to step back on.
People go about their daily lives, stuff happens, (although nothing I’d want to miss out on obviously) but while it does, I’m simply hanging out in the ether – doing nothing, expecting nothing of myself and not having anything expected of me.
In that ether I’m awake, able to look about, just still: getting my bearings, waiting for the bits of myself and my life that had felt temporarily spun off, to reintegrate so I feel whole once more. And, when I’m ready (and of course in this suspended state there’s no pressure to be ready) I simply step back on, or in to my world, and life as I know it continues without so much as a blip in the time space continuum.
My fantasy resurfaces when the diary and To Do list are full. When I feel pulled in multiple directions. When it seems as if there’s not enough time in my life for all the things I think I need to do and there’s certainly not enough space, just to be. At times like this I often find myself waking in the wee small hours – as if the quiet afforded by the cover of darkness, is what’s needed to soothe my overstimulated soul.
It turns out my fantasy is my own in-built wellbeing check. I know when it surfaces that it’s a signal I need to temporarily push the ‘Pause’ button on my life.
Yet even when I instinctively know this is what I need, I tend to do the opposite. Rather than allowing myself space, I plunge head long into busying myself with escapist ‘self-care’, as if I’m terrified of what I might find in the space. I binge watch recorded TV, aimlessly window shop, go to poorly reviewed movies or busy myself with insignificant but, in that moment, vitally important errands, which a short time later I have difficulty recalling – either what they were or why they seemed to be so vital.
This escapism is usually closely followed by a strong urge to ‘take charge’ once and for all! When I commit to finally getting organised and conquering my To Do List, ruthlessly culling every last email, uncluttering my entire house, pledging myself to a life time of healthy eating and daily exercise, recommitting to the big, hairy, audacious goals I’ve already set for myself or possibly setting more!
As you might imagine, this is the worst possible state for me to be making these decisions. As Michael Neill points out in his inspired book The Inside-Out Revolution “One of the great ironies of the human condition is that we seem most motivated to make dramatic changes at precisely the moments we’re least equipped to do so.”
On the other hand, if I can just allow myself to be quiet and still for long enough, I realise anew that nothing (including me) is fundamentally broken and nothing needs to be fixed. It’s just how I’m thinking about what’s going on that’s tripping me up. All I need to do is to allow myself sufficient time and space for my mind to quiet down enough for my inherent wisdom to resurface. And what’s more, I don’t even need to work at that. Nor do I need to take drastic action like stepping off the planet.
I simply need to allow myself to be stop and do, well, nothing, until I feel I’m ready to move on again.
Your turn – any ‘stepping off the planet’ fantasies or strategies you’d like to share?