“Crazy Is as Crazy Does”: A Nitty Gritty Update on the Big Life Pause

At 16 days to international departure, things are getting a little crazy.  Every morning, I wake up and ask, what goes now? ….  Artwork, clothing, furniture, kitchen gadgets.  Accumulating emptiness at the price of frenzied fatigue, the ongoing release of “stuff” now feeling less like celebration and more like a stubborn fight for freedom.   

 Finally, a long awaited dinner with my Indonesia savvy friends to hash out logistical details.  Fabulous food and excited discussion about living in SE Asia, from WhatsApp (Yes! Everyone at my farewell party WILL install and practice on the spot!) to flights, lodging, transportation, currency exchange, hotels, Dengue fever

Who Me? Action Addiction?

By the time I woke at the crack of dawn the next morning, armed with details and ready purchase plane tickets, I was on it – and all over the place.   I had helpful messages from both friends pinging away on my phone, along with online options with multiple airlines showing departures in Seattle, San Francisco or LA.   All in military time, with different layover and transit times.

 By the time I was an hour in, I couldn’t tell what day I was leaving and when I would arrive at my final destination. None of which was helped by new spam prevention software that kept trashing my confirmation emails.   I was smack dab in thrash, a fear-driven state of reactivity only visible when I crawled back to relative sanity 3 hours later.  

 I have no confidence in international online travel planning.  Frankly, it scares me to death, all the unknown intricacies and the zillion things that could go wrong half way around the world.  So, my little reptilian brain goes into survival mode, and I start swinging… blindly

It was only in a postmortem moment of awareness that I saw the classic trap of action addiction.  I realized that, yes indeed, fear and uncertainty really do make me crazy. 

You’re So Brave

“Go for it!  GSD!  Make it happen! Take a stab!”  It’s true that hyperactivity has been a hallmark of the past 2 months, but just how effective I’ve been is debatable.   Because when I’m uncertain, I go gonzo - pitching stuff, giving stuff away, cancelling subscriptions, deleting accounts.   I feel like a terrorized bull in a china shop, fighting my way to takeoff.

 When friends and colleagues learn about my big Pause adventure, there is a general nod to some kind of bravery.  “Wow!  So lucky!  Wish I could…”. The truth is that a living experiment in Outrageous Openness is deeply uncomfortable.

I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next, and I’m darn uncomfortable about that.  Daily. 

“Is it Over, Yet?”

 The other thing I notice about this period of surrender, is a subtle desire to make the discomfort go by faster.   Like ripping off a Band-Aid, a part of my brain thinks that the process will somehow hurt less if it happens quickly.  Both reactivity and urgency are dancing in the wings of every moment.

 So the lesson is: slow down.  Take my own advice.  Pause. Breathe.  Double check before hitting send.  Take a cool sip of water and look out the window. Feel the solid security of my feet on the floor.

  “Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast”.

That’s what the Navy Seals say, and I love it as a personal reminder to slowing down.  I’m also reminding myself that I will be on that airplane in 16 days, one way or another, and my exit need not be “perfect”.  After all, now is a great time to begin doing without – without furniture, without fashion, without any firm plans.  Less perfection, less certainty as I usher in my third act adventure.

 How about you?  Do you ever fall into the speedster reactivity of action addiction?  Ever find yourself digging your way out of your own self induced mess?  Name it to tame it, people, and welcome to the human condition.