Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Driving is still the cure for so much of what ails me. The simplicity of it is appealing, and every component is crucial, from the good music to the familiar streets to the iced coffee in the cup holder. I drove around on this beautiful Monday, with minimal cars on the road, and just cruised. I had to make a few more decisions than I would have liked, but I didn’t mind. The weather was relatively warm, the sun was shining, and somewhere along the way, I made peace with the rough patch I’d just been through. For me, that’s what driving offers. It’s a chance to go, to be in an environment where it’s just me, and I can think, or not think. I almost always come out of it feeling better.

My friend once dated someone that didn’t want to have uncomfortable conversations. This was years ago, and while this person has likely changed, this situation blew my mind when I was younger. At that time, I had dealt with many unpleasant experiences, things like loss, the awkwardness of growing up, surviving in a mixed family, etc. I didn’t have much of a say in any of these events, or if I did, it didn’t feel like it. Whether I wanted to or not, I was forced to confront the things in life that most would rather not. I had no choice but to face it all, and yet, I would argue that my life has been richer as a result. The challenging circumstances didn’t ruin me, and may have made me stronger as a person.

In high school, I was pretty happy. It wasn’t until I started to reckon with the bigger questions of life, and dad got sick, that I experienced some of the darkest years I’ve ever lived through, although I kept my sense of humor. Happiness proved elusive at times, and yet, I held out hope that things would get better. The pendulum just had to swing the other way.

In my post entitled, “10 Years Gone,” I wrote about mortality, and how I didn’t get to a point of acceptance willingly. I can’t take much credit for being able to be uncomfortable, as I’m not sure I would gotten there on my own. Life just happens, much of it without your consent, and so the best thing you can do is move with it, and accept each moment for what it is. It’s not easy, though, to dive into that discomfort. We must be brave, although I will say that it gets easier the more that you do it. I will also say from experience that the good things of life shine a little brighter as a result of the darkness. I deeply appreciate my job because I’ve known what it’s like to feel lost, directionless, to not know what I’m doing. I enjoy my apartment and the city of Boston, where I’ve been for something like 5 years, but I used to want to drop everything and run. I appreciate the love that I’ve found within, as I’ve known what it’s like to not like myself, and to have a voice in my head telling me I was falling short. I could take myself down a peg or two. I don’t miss that.

34 will likely go down as the best and most important year of my life. 35 has been a continuation, a beautiful continuation, where I build on the skills of the past year, and become increasingly confident. It’s also been the year where I’ve started to come to terms with aging, and the realization that I will not be young forever. Earlier in the year, I came to grips with my weight, and also a few lines in my forehead that threw me for an absolute loop. As a result, I became extremely paranoid about sun exposure.

Lately, I’ve been compulsively checking my hairline, and after a concert last year left my ears a little compromised, I’ve also been worried that I’m losing my hearing. It’s led to me doing things like obsessively turning down the volume, buying ear plugs for concerts and sporting events, and seeing if I could hear conversations in a noisy place. My eyes are terrible, but at least they are consistent. I’ve had glasses since I was 12 years old, and for the most part, my prescription hasn’t changed. My dad didn’t have good vision either, and maybe in some strange way, it makes me feel more connected to him.

This past weekend, my anxiety was stronger than it had been in some time. While watching a movie, I couldn’t stop checking whether or not I could hear the dialogue, and I ultimately realized that the best thing that I could do was to go home. I went upstairs, grabbed my stuff, and opted for the solitude and solace of a quiet apartment. I could have told the people I was with what was going on, but this just seemed easier. Sometimes you’re not confident that the explanation will be well-received.

When I got home, I worked out, went for a fast food run, and then settled into some good TV for the night. Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to play the hits, to do the things that we know will calm us down. There’s something to be said for finding your calm center among others, but when the opportunity presents itself, it’s nice to know that you can remove yourself from wherever you are, and just be alone for a bit until you feel right again. Sometimes, I really just want to be alone.

I’ve never thought of myself as vain, and yet, I know that that part of me exists. Age 35 has been a little rocky, even if it’s been wonderful. The slight change in appearance is rocking my world, in part because I’ve looked pretty much the same for a long time. I took it for granted. Maybe I wasn’t obsessively checking my looks in the mirror, but I was very much comfortable with how I looked. I’m still pretty fixated on being muscular and in shape, and I do regularly check out my physique. Admitting this isn’t the most fun thing, but I know that this part of me exists.

The anxiety this weekend was challenging, and yet, as I drove back to my apartment today, I was thankful for it. I was thankful to be able to experience all of these different facets of life, even the unpleasant ones. I understand wanting to avoid the unpleasantness, and yet, I’m doing my best to accept the entire experience as it is, not the way that I want it to be. I’m along for the ride, no matter where it goes.

Weekends like this let me know that there is still a lot of work to be done. There’s more work needed, but I’ve made incredible progress. I know that the more experience I get in dealing with these personal crises, the better I’ll handle them in the future, which is something dad told me many years ago. I’m making a slight alteration to his quote. He said that this catastrophe will prepare me for others down the road. I knew what he was saying, but I no longer want to think of life as one catastrophe after another, with little intermissions of calm and peace. Still, those challenging moments will happen. Life expresses in duality. You can’t just get the good without the bad. So much of my work now is in how to reframe these less pleasant moments, how to accept them, process them, and glean from them the lessons that they have to offer. Life’s a classroom if we choose to see it that way. I’ll continue on my odyssey, and I’m excited for whatever is next, whether it’s good or bad, big or small. Thanks for reading.


One thought on “Odyssey

  1. Funny story about your Dad. Once, when we were young, I stepped on something barefooted and cut my toe. No big deal. I casually said,”my toe is bleeding”. Next I knew he was on his knees with his nose 2 inches from my foot. He didn’t just have poor eyesight. He was blind at a bat. I seldom failed to remind him.😆🍒


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