Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nodding Off at the Wheel

Woke this morning feeling lousy. It reminded me that I need to focus on my body. I've put weight on as the school year ended because I have forgotten to notice what I'm eating and felt too overburdened to get my body moving. These things happen and occasionally, when I lose track of things, my body sets off an alarm to remind me. This is good no matter how it feels this morning.

Change is difficult because it doesn't just happen; it has to be maintained. I've made many changes but none are autonomous or self-sustained. When I lose focus, I go off the road and sometimes crash to a stop. This time, I've gone onto the shoulder, but not crashed. I nodded off and it's time I steered my way back onto the road.

Have I pushed that analogy far enough? Well, let me push a little harder.

You're driving. It's late. It's raining and dark as hell. You've been driving for hours. You're tired. The highway is long and straight. Boring. You find yourself, against all your will and sense, nodding off and starting awake in a panic. The car just drifted through the rumble strips. The noise panicked you. Your arms almost jerked the wheel hard, but you caught yourself and steered back into your lane. You decide to get off at the next exit and find a cup of coffee.

That moment of panic, that's the feeling I had about my health a few minutes ago. I wanted to jerk the wheel hard, but writing this helps me apply logic and instead, ease myself back into a new direction, let the car come back safely.

In moments of panic like these, I'm tempted to fast or eat only kale. I figure I have to go for a ten-mile run even though I haven't run much in weeks. I make plans to lose twelve pounds before lunch.

Yeah, right.

Jerking the wheel that hard is likely to lead to disaster. I have to remember that my choices are not confined only to waging war or surrendering.

So this morning I'm easing the car back into the lane, driving to the next exit. I don't have to think about the whole trip, don't have to make radical course corrections. Change isn't like that. Change is a long trip. In this moment, I have only to take care to drive the road I can see.

This doesn't mean I'm free of long-range responsibilities. Quite the contrary. I'm following a plan I set out long ago. I've been asleep for only a few moments, the path is still good. I just need to get back on track and. Then I can map out alternate routes as need be. I can change destinations or pull over and rest. I have so many options.

So I'm awake. I've cleaned the kitchen, shaved my face, scooped litter, emptied the dehumidifier, written 750 words and revised them. I have coffee and a plan for a good breakfast. I'm calmly pulling the car back onto the road so that I can drive on. Er, I mean, write on.