Maybe you’ve had this happen before – or maybe I’m just weird? – but recently it seems I’m spending a lot of time in my own head. There is definitely a lot on my mind, and much of my effort these days is cerebral as opposed to physical (although painting a good portion of the outside of my house last weekend was pretty physical). It has gotten bad enough recently that I had an entire conversation with my husband in my head, then when I tried to actually talk to him about it later, he had no idea what I was going on about.
It is a chaotic time in our home right now. One kid is graduating from high school, one is trying his level-best to fail, and one is beginning to emerge from her shell and discover the world. I’m in the process of changing jobs (I currently have three jobs, I’ll be narrowing to two within a few weeks), and it is three weeks to finals for my students, so papers are coming in fast and furious. Just about everyone I know lives a chaotic life, except for maybe my mom and step-dad. They are retired and like to travel, so chaos to them is making flight and hotel reservations.
All the activity and change is causing me to turn inward more often. I’ve been lost in thought so often when I’ve been driving that I’ve missed the exit for my house leaving work about four times in the last two weeks. Not only do I know how dangerous that is, but I’m pretty frustrated at how much gas it wastes as well. I’m beginning to think I may need a therapist to talk to so I can empty everything in my head out and let someone else help me sort through it. I’m not opposed to therapy, but I seriously don’t know when I’ll fit it into my schedule. If I could find someplace like 24 Hour Fitness – maybe 24-Hour Mental Fitness – then I’d stand a better chance. I think most therapists go home around 5:00 or maybe 6:00, so I’ll have to look for other alternatives I guess. I started journaling again, and while it provides some measure of relief, I always feel that if I’m going to spend that much time writing, I ought to spend it on something worthwhile like my novels.
I did get out the yoga DVDs the other day. I had great intentions of doing some late-night yoga, but the DVD player wouldn’t work for me, and I wound up falling asleep on the sofa instead. Of course, in a few weeks, everything will be different. The most time-consuming job will be gone, I’ll be getting ready to go to Vermont for some much-needed battery charging at my alma mater, and it will fully be summer here. It has been raining off and on for more than a week now, and I could use a good, long nap in the sun right about this point.
Being lost in thought like I am these days is a sure sign that I’m trying to work my way through something. All the transitions going on in my life are certainly the biggest aspect, but there are other, more deeply-hidden things as well. My goal right now is just to “power through” all of it. Years ago, when my hubby and I were still dating, we went on a backpacking trip. We had looked at a guide book and found what seemed to be a perfect place to camp for a weekend. The guide book said the trail was “moderate, with some choppy terrain near the end.” It also said that the elevation gain was around 800 feet, and the hike should take about 5 hours.
The reality was that the information was written for people who wanted to day hike. In addition, there was over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, and 500 of that came in the last 3/4 of a mile. Choppy? Sure, if you consider large boulders and tree roots to be choppy, then the trail is definitely choppy at the end – at the steepest part, and we were each carrying a pack that weighed around 40 pounds. Okay, mine may have been around 35, but it was heavy none-the-less.
Somewhere around the last mile, I started to have a physical and mental breakdown. We had been hiking for close to 8 hours, and I was exhausted. Every step I took hurt. I wanted to throw my pack down in the middle of the trail and declare that as our camp site, but there were a lot of cheery day hikers who might have been a bit bothered by that, so I kept going. Ultimately, I got myself lost in thought. I began thinking about what I would fix for dinner when I got home. I thought about a pair of shoes I wanted to buy, and figured out how to redo my resume’ so that I could apply for a new job. Occasionally I would look up to see where I was, then I would think to myself, “Head down, power through.” I watched the trail, took a few more steps, thought about cleaning out the VHS tapes that I had collected, and pushed forward.
It took nearly an hour of doing this to reach the summit of the trail and find a camp site, but I made it. The concept of “head down, power through” has been working for me ever since. I finish novels this way, I get through death this way, I deal with uncomfortable situations at work this way. Losing myself in my own thoughts keeps me focused, most of the time. There is still that pesky problem of missing the exit. I know it’s a defense mechanism, and maybe if I ever do find a 24-Hour Therapist, he or she will tell me that I’m just avoiding things. Maybe so, but if it gets me through, and gets me through in one piece, I think it’s a technique I’ll keep in my bag for just a little while longer.