The life outside your window may be moving with nature, city lights and traffic, or be almost still with another apartment building facing yours. What you see outside your window matters less than how you feel inside you.
~Maria Lehtman, The Aquarium Life
I have faced many controversial situations in my life. I have been faced situations where I wanted to be more authentic, feel more comfortable about my personal strengths, feel empowered and all in all, be healthier.
In gradual changes or big leaps, I have managed to pursue goals that made me feel more at ease about the creativity that I had, especially working in the technology field. However, it has also been about my personal journey. Understanding that when there is a conflict of interests the situation is as real as it gets. We tend to undermine our intuition that tells us we are not ok as we are. We are allowed to empower ourselves and look for opportunities that provide us with a better balance of life.
I recently read an article about a woman who had pushed herself throughout her career to manage through painful chronic migraines. She admitted that looking back, she should have accepted her condition and been more graceful to herself. I saw a lot of myself in her story. I too pushed myself to the limits given that others did too. However, I never really articulated what the situation with the ‘others’ was. If someone was able to work 60+ hours a week, so should I. What I know is that the demand is always, always higher than the supply. If it wasn’t no one would have given automation another thought.
You cannot automate yourself
When writing this I know I have had a long gap in blogging. I kept thinking; it will be ok. I will get back to it. I did not. Why? Because I still had the expectation that I had to write as I have done before. Keeping to the agenda, style, themes. However, if I am in a different state in life, that would be a wrong expectation. If I look at an ocean, it remains and keeps its boundaries. The waves crashing to the shore, however, are never the same. The ocean changes and so does everything it touches. As does life.
My situation today? I suffered a setback with my health. It was not due to any one thing, although certainly the fear of the pandemic played a big role to someone already with a lacking immune system. I found myself yet again thinking that I need to be, and do, as I have before. When the health lapse started, I spent a month looking outside my window during the days. I could only comfortably walk outside during the light Nordic nights. Then I decided it is time to give myself a break. If there is one thing in life I cannot automate to perfection, it is me. I alone can define how I feel about myself. Only I know the boundaries and limits. Trying to repeat yourself to the same degree as you did before is not evolution. It can be growth, but it is not transformation.
So, I began writing this blog. For me. For you. To encourage you to live your life without thinking that you can be automated to any degree.
We are human. We are creative. We are emotional. We feel. We adapt. And therefore, we cannot operate constantly in a replication mode.
Living the aquarium life
What I call the aquarium life is a state of being where you exist and see the world around you, but you cannot integrate with it. It can be due to physical or mental circumstances, or both. You feel disassociated from the world around you. Sometimes even the very life force: nature.
I remember a long period of grief when I was a teenager. I looked at the first spring flowers from the bus window: beautiful blue wood anemones. My eyes scanned the flowers and I did not feel anything. I was startled when I realized my lack of emotion. A spring child always reacts to the first signs of spring. Next year the anemones bloomed again, and I found myself feeling a small joy when I spotted them. I knew I would be ok. Slowly.
When you find yourself in this situation – remember, you are not programmed to stay in a certain mode. You live through the shock, the feeling of loneliness, distress… whatever the emotional and physical scale. You will not be the same, but the ‘different you’ is just as unique and as important as the you before. Very often a stronger version if you can move forward in small steps, reach out to others, find value in your life no matter how small.
IF. The dangerous word. If only… The only regret is regret itself. We cannot live in the past. I love my past. It is a silver-lined version of how my life actually was. Easy to digest. If I really recall the circumstances, they were far from easy. The past becomes a photograph, a happy selfie that hides the true self. Create new images. Create, at least, one memory from each day you can look back to in the evening. I take photographs. If I have less strength, I photograph my flowers on the porch. One or two quick snapshots that I share on social media. Flowers give me a purpose, they are beautiful, they need to be watered – and my family and friends look forward to seeing the images.
Create your moment outside the aquarium life. And one day you realize the walls have disappeared.
Take care and stay safe!