- inscription on Charles Bukowski’s gravestone
A couple of weeks ago, a day or so before I left my job, one of my coworkers asked me, “So, what are you gonna do now?” I replied, “I’m gonna do nothing until I get bored, then see what happens.”
But doing nothing is harder than it might sound.
I’m now deep into my second week of freedom, and it’s already feeling substantially less strange than it did at first. I’m trying to do nothing as often as I can … trying not to try. Some days I feel like I’ve forgotten more than I remember about myself, and I wonder just how long it’s going to take me to bring myself back. I feel horribly and profoundly scattered a lot of the time, like pieces of me are floating around my nucleus waiting to coalesce into some new whole that I can’t yet comprehend.
I still have moments of almost paralyzing anxiety about my financial situation. When I think about working again, I can’t imagine going back to living in a cubicle with a computer, but I can’t imagine going forward into something else either, ’cause I still don’t know how to make a living doing what moves me. I seem to be more prone to mental thrashing than I have been in a long time, although thankfully I have a lot of skills and strategies now that help me recognize when I’m doing it and ease myself out of that state.
A couple of friends I trust have told me I need to get outta town, and I think they’re right, but so far it’s been more important for me to settle into myself, slow down to my own pace again, and get back to some of the basics that keep me centered and grounded: eating well, resting as needed, coming back into my body, breathing. In short, caring for myself as if I cared about myself. When I’m not doing that, I know I’m in trouble. It’s my foundation, and my foundation had been crumbling. I had my home cleaned last week and that’s made an enormous difference in how I feel and in my ability to focus and rest. Next on my list is taking care of some long-deferred vehicle maintenance and getting my daily walks going again.
I’m very glad now that I didn’t try to rush myself out of town before I felt ready. I think a little trip could be great for me, but I’ve got to get all four wheels back on the pavement again first.
There was an enormous amount of disintegration going on in my life during the last 2-3 months, far more than I consciously realized. As my situation at work deteriorated, the rest of my life was following suit. I was too immersed in the day-to-day struggle to survive to notice all the details, but I could feel the slide, even if I couldn’t do much to stop it.
Now, as I’m beginning to separate energetically and psychically from a job and a work environment that had become increasingly toxic for me, I’m beginning to come back to myself, beginning to reset and recover. It’s also getting easier, day by day, for me to “do nothing,” to surrender to the moment, to my feelings and my body, and see what happens. I’m gradually moving from “trying not to try” to “not trying to try.” And that’s a good sign that I’m on the right track.
The Trying not to try by Rick Belden, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.