If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.
Two phrases will not leave me alone.
What the hell are you doing?
This is the beautiful revolution you hoped it would be!
I’ve tried to kick them out of my head. I’ve tried to get them to work out their differences. I’ve tried to choose one over the other. But they seem intent on staying. Both are real. Both describe exactly how I’m feeling and yet I can’t get over that they seem to be playing for different teams. One that seeks to have me run back to comfort and another that’s happy I shoved myself out of the nest.
One month ago a lot was unknown. How would the experiment of moving myself, husband, and four animals into my mom and step-dad’s basement go? We have a home that we own and love. Nothing needed changing. Nothing was wrong with our situation. We didn’t have to move out, to give it all up.
But there was another, more persistent noise making a racket and taking up residence in my brain. The thought, that with a ton of hard work and preparation, one of my biggest dreams could be realized–a trip around the world where we would run ultra-marathons on (almost) each continent. It would be an ultra trip that would stretch us longer, farther and more than any adventure prior. It would be one that would look more like a pilgrimage than a vacation, more like exploration than tourism, more like a trail-blazing revolution than a comfort-seeking tour. It would be a trip, and a process of getting there, that would force us to depend less on our private, introverted, independence and more on vulnerability, risk and interdependence.
And so we did it. We moved out. For many months it didn’t seem like it would ever arrive. The focus was intense–a foreign type of working with our hands and problem-solving endurance that as ultra-marathoners we’ve come to appreciate. House work, no eating out, house projects, no spending money on anything personal, house work, training, finding renters, house cleaning, running, packing, organizing and more house work. We moved with the hope that it would open up our finances, make the adventure a reality, as well as accomplish another goal that had been on Chris’ “someday” list—live in close community with many other people … or at least a couple who we know and love.
We spent so long preparing to move–eight months to be exact–that I almost forgot the day would actually come. The day when we’d be sleeping under exposed floor boards on a borrowed futon in 600 square cement feet that contains all of our remaining possessions (minus the furniture we left at our house). And you know what, it’s actually kind of cozy. Or, in Chris’ words, “This is the most exotic location on earth.”
There is still a part of me that wants to come down hard on whether or not I like this experiment. Choose, Susie! It’s either: what the hell are you doing OR this is the beautiful revolution you hoped it would be. But, it can actually be both. We live in a world that thrives on black and white, non-blurry, straightforwardness and, yet, there is so much beauty in liminality. All around us there are thresholds, mixtures, and indistinct spaces that make life delicious and fascinatingly worthwhile.
So, I wonder if this isn’t just part of the gift in the life-altering challenge we have chosen to undergo. That I might be able to make peace with these and other factions of myself at odds with one another. Could I finally settle an internal war that’s been waging within me for decades? That it’s okay to be many contradictory things at one single moment and in one single life. That’s it’s okay to be BOTH. Strict and naughty. Intelligent and bad at math. Tough and highly sensitive. Organized and a slob. A sweetheart and a bitch. Cultured and love to cuss. Driven and a lover of sleep. Soulful and questioning. Intentional and don’t give a damn. Natural and interested in fashion. Caring and selfish. Serious and full of laughter. Perfectionistic and carefree.
With just over six months to go before we hope to depart, it still feels like a nearly impossible task that we might travel the globe to run six ultra-marathons in six weeks. But as I find myself settling into our new home, into being somewhere between hell and beautiful revolution, I wonder what else might yet be within reach.