Thing #156 I like about getting older: when I have a bad day, I know it’s just that. One day. Or, often, much less than a full day.
Still, even though I know it will pass, it isn’t fun when it happens.
I had a bad day on Saturday. It culminated in sobbing over chili at dinner next to a suddenly contrite and maybe alarmed Wes, who had reacted to something I’d said tersely. He rubbed my back. I felt my big scarf filling up with the tears suddenly rolling off my face and, strangely, the release felt good. I’d been feeling and naming that I was experiencing stress the entire day.
The funny part is, up to that point I’d felt like I’d crested a hill.
“Just cruising on in these next couple weeks to departure!” I’d announce brightly to anyone who asked how I’m doing two weeks prior to Airstream pickup. “I’ve got a big list, but I feel like the heavy lift part is done and now it’s just ticking things off ‘til I leave.”
Here’s what was dawning on me that Saturday:
- Yes, we have the truck (freshly named Brian the Beast, by the way. Brian for short). But the truck needs some repairs and tune-ups to be haul ready. The parts are en route, but not all of them have arrived yet. The mechanics we work with will do their best, but they’re up to their eyeballs in work, always.
- Yes, the Airstream has been picked up from the manufacturer. But we’re a week behind pickup date due to a fire (!) at the manufacturer which had a cascading impact. And of course, even the “new” date is not a certainty. If this were the only thing hanging out there for me, it wouldn’t be a big deal. But I have consulting commitments throughout this journey and the “not knowing” exactly where I’ll get internet and be able to do focused work stresses me out.
- Yes, Fluffy (the truck) has a buyer. But the title is still in Nevada. We need it to officially make the sale. And navigating the bureaucracy of an out of state DMV is about as exciting, confusing, and at times misleading as it sounds. It’s been a bit of a red-tape and misinformation nightmare.
I’ve also been feeling many, many pulls on my time and energy. Most of them are compelling! Yes, I want to take on that project. Sure, I’ll swing by later on. Thank you for the invite here! Oh, there’s an opportunity there! Etc.
Lucky me, right? There’s a world out there with people in it who know I exist and are excited to connect and bring me further into the stuff we do in life to find meaning. Thing is, I’m more saturated right now than I think I have ever been. I feel full-up with stimulus, running logistics, focusing on fulfilling what I’ve said I’ll do (for myself and others), and still having time leftover to meaningfully rest. Does that sometimes mean mouth breathing and playing Wordle on a couch with a blanket and bottomless tea? Going for long walks by myself? Building an epic dance playlist in the comfort of my living room?
Yes. That’s part of being oversaturated, is spending that time on myself to decompress and try to make up some of the lost ground. Another reason I love being older: I find it a whole lot easier to say no, because I know I have a perfectly good reason whatever it is.
But Saturday the frenzy of the many unknowns really hit me in the morning and created a pallor over the day. I went for my usual weekend morning long run without any music or podcasts, just trying to focus on taking in the fresh air and breathing out stress. It worked only a little bit; another sign that I’m oversaturated. Typically running provides a surefire reset.
There’s not an easy answer here. I think crying helped – it was just a simple release of energy. I talked to a friend who assured me everything would work out okay, and that helped too. And Wes helped, rubbing my back and telling me he thought it would all be fine.
It will be, of course. But I’d be naive to think that I’ve crested a hill and am just cruise-controlling my way into this next phase of life. Of course there’s a lot, there always will be. I have to keep reminding myself that the stress will come and go, that I have choice in how I manage my self, and try to focus squarely on what matters the most to me: taking in the little, beautiful moments as they happen, and keeping a sense of connection to the world and the people and places I love so much.
In so many ways, this time right here and right now is one of the biggest pushes and changes I’ve ever invested in to create circumstances that enable more of the above. Of course it’s stressful. How could it not be? And this too shall pass.