Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Review and Catch up
It has been hard. It has also been different. Have you ever had all the events and immensity of life rush suddenly at you, seeming to hit all at once and been overwhelmed by complexity of it all? That is where I found myself. I will try to order these thoughts as they occur to me here.
Time off with nothing to do with leisure and entertainment is not good for me. I feel it may not be good for any man, but I am unable to speak for others. Endless days of what amount to be perpetual weekends left me feeling listless and I was wearing out all of the activities that I always had found joy in. The same things that always brought a smile to my face and spring to my step became ritual and mundane. Since they were no longer special by way of scarcity and scheduling, they had become a routine that pounded the life out of them. This puzzled me. How could I not enjoy all the wonderful, simple things any more? It is like the happy had been sucked out of them and I was left with nothing but force of habit. I learned "familiarity breeds contempt". This applies to both activities and to people. Too much of a good thing is not healthy. I was missing balance.
I found myself withdrawing further from family, friends and even social activities. Morning would come, I would start my day and never quite manage to get out and about. I was turning down invitations and events, stopped going to my coffee shop or club to hang out with friends, wasn't attending church, in short, beginning to live like a hermit. I threw myself back into books and spent hours reading alone in the quiet of my house. The more I spent time alone, the easier it was to stay alone. With all that solitary time, my mind began to wander. I spent a lot of time thinking and playing piano. Sometimes the music could carry me to different places. All of those places were not bright and life giving. (Chopin and Beethoven certainly know how to emote with sound. Incredibly plaintive and dark indeed, at least the pieces I was exploring.)
I started thinking and pondering my friends and families lives. I began comparing and contrasting what they had and who they were with who I was and what I had. I started making judgments about why they were more successful and happier than I and found myself in a vicious cycle of longing, jealousy, covetousness, and self pity. I saw all these people that had love and people. Love, husbands, wives, children and full, productive lives that seemed to be going somewhere and in juxtaposition to my life, I seemed to fall very, dismally short. My mind turned back to my past and slowly began ticking over all the happier more full times in my own life, when I had a boyfriend or a partner and huge plans for my future. Then I would look at my life in its current state and begin to despair all over again. I did not have a partner. I am alone. I didn't seem to have a future (or at the least the one I had imagined) and then the incredibly huge task of life and all its tiny little details would attack my mind and make me feel even worse. Was I wrong? Was there something irrevocably flawed with me? Why did my life look so different than everyone else? What was wrong with me?
The long and short of it was, without something constructive to do with my mind and hands, without the challenge of learning and creating, my mind and heart turned in on itself and became self destructive. I only saw myself in the mirror and then I turned to looking at all the things that I did not have instead of being grateful and thankful for all the amazing people, things and experiences I did have. Life had lost its magic, its spark and allure and I was falling deeper into a pit of my own making. Being a prisoner in ones mind is no enjoyable thing I can tell you. The very life is sucked out of each and every day and no end or solution seems to present itself. I cannot begin to explain all the things that upset and bothered me, because to be honest, some days I did not understand the feelings myself. They were without words to quantify.
One morning, I decided on a change. Just like that. I woke up early feeling completely different with absolutely no explanation for they. Something had to give and the only one piloting this boat was me. I knew I had to fill my time and life with something constructive and creative, so I accepted a Sous Chef position that had been offered to me about a month ago. I had been offered some more prestigious and challenging positions, once people in the business knew I was free, but this one compelled me for different reasons. I have been there for a week now and I can already tell a huge improvement in my life, emotions and demeanor! I love cooking! It has always been a passion. It is my art.
My last position and company had drained the life and love out of me due to various reasons (schedule, responsibility, staff, work load, creative constraints) but it had not killed that drive to make, experiment and work with food. The first week was hard, as any kind of change can be, especially for me. (I am and always will be a creature of habit and patterns, though I am always changing them. A paradox, I know.) It is lower position than the one that I left (title, pay, power, advancement, bragging rights as a Chef) for a place not quite as successful or well funded, but it is honest work and an excellent challenge. The loss of position or cut in pay does not bother me, in fact, working in a smaller place with less corporate oversight, personal responsibility, management and training of staff is a welcome change of pace. I go to work. I cook. I feed people. I work with my kitchen crew, who while very young, are certainly motivated, enthusiastic and respond to leadership and coaching well. I certainly have my work cut out for me, but I do enjoy a good challenge. I have some of my joy back and for that I am thankful! It feels good to put my Chef toque on, get into a kitchen and have my knives, tools and pans back in my hands every day. :)
Today is a day off, for real. I can't have a day "off" unless I am working, so now the prospect of getting into the city and enjoying myself holds some actual promise! I don't want to spend all day buried in a book or working around the house, I know what that feels like. I can't say I have totally whipped all those conflicted feelings about others or the bewildering confusing emotions that come over me, but I can say that I am making a conscious choice to be thankful and grateful for the people and things I do have. My life truly is blessed and there are so many people in this world who would love to have my life. I am finding satisfaction in my station and place, regardless of what others may have or be.
I may not be in love or have a boyfriend or partner right now (and in some ways, I am okay with this, as strange as that may sound coming from me!). I may not have children and a family of my own. I might not have all the answers that I seek and wonder about. I might not be the must successful, richest or most beautiful person I know. I may not be able to do some of the amazing things or have the skills that others can and have. My life might look completely different than others.
It is mine and I am going to keep living it. :)