This past week was a vibrantly coloured blur. A whirlwind of spontaneous activity. Some of the spontaneity was upsetting, or if not upsetting, then at least difficult. Stressful. My computer cord sprouted an exposed wire and burst into a lights show. There was trouble with my current landlord. My phone rang constantly, with strangers wanting to see my apartment. The gate for my flight was switched to another terminal after I had already walked to the first.
But some spur of the moment occurrences were absolutely wonderful. A last minute tea date with some beautiful friends. A trip to West Van to find the perfect view of Vancouver. A walk to the Olympic Cauldron, and then a half hour walk all the way home – just because I felt like I could.
This week I galloped from one activity to the next, some planned, some not, and while I was certainly frazzled, I also felt exhilarated. It was a roller coaster, going too fast to be fully in my control, but I knew that my fall would be caught at the end.
And that, truly, was great. Regardless of how I felt during the week itself, the certainty that I could prevent a crash was a new feeling. A semblance of slight control, whether accurate or not, that allowed me to have a ‘crazy’ week, and be spontaneous.
But there has been a darker side to this frenzied pace of life. While I have just managed to cling on to the edges of control, and, apart from a few extra migraines and achy joints, have experienced no severe physical flare ups, the thrilling race has come at a cost.
The cost became overwhelmingly clear while I was showing my apartment, and a lady asked whether I used the mobility scooter because of injury, or illness. Now, there are many things that could cause me to react the way I did. The question was phrased quite bluntly, I was in a realty frame of mind, trying desperately to smooth over any issues, and truly, it’s a bit of a complicated question. My use of the mobility scooter came as the result of an illness compounded by an injury.
But I don’t think any of those reasons were why I stuttered, unable to answer. I think that I had been moving so quickly, I ended up losing a bit of my grounding. I was so swept up by all of the things that I had to do, and that I wanted to do, that there was simply no room for anything else.
After all, I do not have unlimited amounts of energy. I still have a chronic illness that takes its toll on my body.
As my physical strength returns, it is getting easier direct that limited energy towards walking and talking, to activities and excursions. And that’s exciting. Because I haven’t had a choice for a long time. The choice to say yes when someone asks me to do something that very day, or the next.
But as I said laughingly to a friend in an entirely different context a couple of days ago, just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should. And if I redirect all of my energy towards doing, what do I sacrifice?
This week I found myself repeating complaints and frustrations, over and over again, reaching no solution and gaining no insight. I was stilted, unable to work through my problems, because I was too busy. I did not have the time, space, or energy to think.
And that is something I am simply not willing to sacrifice. I am not willing to ignore the positive lessons that this experience has taught me. I am not willing to be swept up again into a whirlwind, with no opportunity to get my bearings.
At the same time, does that mean that I cannot have this exhilaration that comes with doing something unplanned and unexpected? This pride and joy that I feel in myself, this excitement? Do I have to choose between sitting back and observing, or experiencing?
Sitting in the airport, waiting for my plane to board yesterday, I finally had some time to reflect. I watched the endless swirl of movement, people rushing to and from their gates, and knew that before I had sat down, I myself had been hurrying about, searching for my gate, and soon I would be active again, boarding the plane and getting settled. But for that minute, while I sat there, I could breathe. I could think.
I guess it all goes back to balance. A different kind of balance. A balance between structure and spontaneity. A schedule with room for flexibility.
Maybe it’s time to readjust my recipe.